Pre-employment drug testing is the most popular type of drug testing among employers. Even though most businesses in the US are not required to drug test their employees, a study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) surveyed 454 HR professionals and found that 84% administer pre-employment drug tests.
Employers choose to drug test because it is an effective deterrent against drug abuse and the impact it has on businesses. A comprehensive study examining the relationship between pre-employment drug test results and absenteeism determined that those who tested positive had absenteeism rates 59.3% higher than those who tested negative. Additionally, the turnover rate for employees with positive drug test results was 47% higher.
In New York, private employers can give drug tests to potential employees once an offer for employment has been made. Employers are also required to test all those that apply for similar positions in the interest of fairness and to avoid discrimination.
Notifying applicants in advance of a pre-employment drug testing policy can discourage those with existing drug abuse problems from applying in the first place. Along the same lines, applicants can decline to take a drug test, but this usually disqualifies them for consideration.
Applicants that are taking certain prescription drugs may test positive for some substances when taking a drug test. A medical review officer (MRO) will contact the employee regarding legitimate reasons for a positive test, at which point the employee can inform them of their prescription medications. Of course prescription drugs can be intentionally abused, and so particularly high concentrations of some substances may be a red flag for abuse. It is up to a certified MRO to make these decisions and not the employer.