Drug Tests For Hiring Drop In Tight Job Market

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Employers are struggling to hire workers in a tightening U.S. job market. Marijuana is now legal in nine states and Washington, D.C., meaning more than one in five U.S. adults can eat, drink, smoke or vape as they please. The result is the slow decline of pre-employment drug tests, which for decades had been a requirement for new recruits in industries ranging from manufacturing to finance, Bloomberg reports.

Excellence Health Inc., a Las Vegas-based health care company with 6,000 employees, no longer tests people coming to work for the firm’s pharmaceutical side. “We don’t care what people do in their free time,” said Liam Meyer, a spokesperson. “We want to help these people, instead of saying: ‘Hey, you can’t work for us because you used a substance.’”

Last month, AutoNation Inc., the largest U.S. auto dealer, said it would no longer refuse applicants who tested positive for weed. The Denver Post, owned by Digital First Media, ended pre-employment drug testing for all non-safety sensitive positions in 2016.

So far, companies in states that have legalized either recreational or medicinal marijuana are leading the way on dropping drug tests. A survey last year by the Mountain States Employers Council of 609 Colorado employers found that the share of companies testing for marijuana use fell to 66 percent, down from 77 percent the year before.

In surveys by the Federal Reserve last year, employers cited an inability by applicants to pass drug tests among reasons for difficulties in hiring. Failed tests reached an all-time high in 2017, says Quest Diagnostics Inc. That’s likely to get worse as more people partake in state-legalized cannabis.

“The benefits of at least reconsidering the drug policy on behalf of an employer would be pretty high,” said Jeremy Kidd, a professor at Mercer Law School. “A blanket prohibition can’t possibly be the most economically efficient policy.”

2 thoughts on “Drug Tests For Hiring Drop In Tight Job Market

  1. It is good that employers are looking at ways to hire more people but I wish they would use the same acceptance towards people with a conviction in their background. It’s ok in their mind to hire people that may currently be using drugs but not someone who has a previous conviction for doing that. This is such a legal discrimination. I applaud them for starting to loosen up restrictions on their hiring policies but until they examine each candidate based on their ability to do the job instead of outdated exclusion policies, there will be a mass of unemployed people waiting for their chance.

  2. The decision to discontinue pre-employement drug screening is a very short sighted one that will prove to be very costly to employers. There are many studies that show drug users cost employers $7,000/year more than a non-drug using employee. They have other softer costs – higher absenteeism, 50% more likely to make a workers compensation claim, higher health insurance use. The proponents of legalized marijuana don’t publish those numbers – nor will they reimburse employers for those costs. Failure to drug test goes against an employers obligation to take all reasonable measures to maintain a safe workplace and opens them up for negligence suits from other employers, customers and the public. Look at the data from Connecticut – their evaluation of legalized marijuana showed the millions of dollars of impact to employers. Just not strategic.

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