Member Discussion

Do You Require Drug Tests For New Employees?

Curious how this industry compares to the nation...

Poll added. Btw, surprised that the national averaged cited was 78%.


The Electrical Contractors Association, (ECA) has an agreement together with the IBEW LU 134 in Chicago that all Administration Employees and Union members are subject to random drug test.

The intent is to publicize that the union contractorselectrical industry in the area are a Drug Free group.


Lou Marrero, (Linksys)

Chicago Communication Systems, Inc.

I have been on too many union projects where the employees were high on marijuana .

Must have regular testing , Monthly or quarterly .

Per insurance, osha, standards of conduct requirements

Does anyone think that the policy of mandatory testing of only new employees for drugs, when not followed up with any further testing during employment, is very effective?

Since many people will 'get clean' just during the hiring process, doesn't this have an unintended employee retention effect for the abuser? Because an abuser would not being looking to jeopardize their employment in any way, lest they have to go through the process of getting clean all over again.

Similar in effect to the Gold Handcuffs used to retain executives. Just more like Columbian Gold ones.

This policy from Vivint (Call Center) is an interesting variation:

We are a drug free environment. We don’t conduct pre-employment drug screening, however, we do conduct random drug testing on site.

I think pre-employment drug screens are pretty standard in my experience. And 'random' post-hire tests are never 'random'. Somehow they always seem to only come up when someone is suspected of using drugs.

Does Vivint drug test their executives?

There has to be a carrot in front of the employee to create incentives to stay clean.

Regular screening, backgrounds, check ups ( similar to live scan )

It is too easy to fall prey to the party scene and get caught in the fast life and throw away life.

or acidentally get druged by those in/at the party.

Just Like Ceos, and upper management personnel you have to create bonus, perks, incentives to keep the work enviornment worth the price.

Too many states are legalizing drugs, and specified uses. and tieing the hands of the employeers to stop the process.

Then They want you to have a drug free enviornment and workplace.

I've had exactly one drug test in the 16 years of my professional career. And it was because a crew I worked with on one project were notorious boozers.

Further, with states legalizing marijuana, how do you regard testing positive for it? Do you simply have a no tolerance policy? So your employees can't take a trip to Colorado or Oregon, let's say, and come back and fail a test three days later, despite not being high on the job? It's not quite so simple as it used to be.

I guess this raises the important distinction - what drugs specifically are being tested for and which ones are grounds for discipline?

Related question: Would a company ever hire, even in the future, someone who fails a test once?

What is a typical pass/fail rate in this industry?

We use a 10 panel oral swab or UA and test for THC, Amphetamine, Opiates, etc....if they fail the management administered test they may go to any agreed upon reference lab to retest at their expense. If they pass that exam we reimburse for the cost of the second exam.

Failure rate is single digits.

The decision to go and be retested by a lab has only been used a handful of times in 15 years of this method. The self righteous outrage in the office of a failed exam is seldom met by that person going to 'prove' they are clean. Those on prescription meds generally identify use up front and are sent to a lab at our cost to begin with which eliminates issues.

Random drug testing at a lab is completed routinely for a percentage of the employee population, senior leadership included.

Those who fail without medicinal proof, including sr. leadership, are disciplined -- up to and likely including termination......keeps everyone on their toes.

Because we are dealing with security/life safety issues with installers - no, we would not hire after a failed drug exam not to mention the potential personal safety issues they create for themselves which in turn leads to a potential w/c problem, missed time, recruiting/training expense, etc.

Thanks, C! Couple of follow-ups if you care to inform:

  • What are the odds in a year a person gets tested?
  • What's your refusal rate?
  • Can you also do testing based only on suspicion?

The odds - set them up based upon your business needs. We choose a low double digit % sample of our employee population on an annualized, random can be higher or lower but be consistent and impartial.

The odds can be calculated from there based upon whatever your employee population is....if you are small(er) in size, say 5 people, the odds are high. If you are larger, say 200+ people, then they are lower unless you determine that each branch location must test 15% of its staff. If an employee keeps getting tagged for random testing, tell them to go play the lotto:)

The refusal rate is low on the initial. It is stated all the way through the vetting process and it is in all new hire paperwork about drug testing. Drug testing is even in the recruiting ads. It isn't a surprise at all. What's more surprising is the occassional response of "oh, you were serious about that. Yeah, I can't pass" or "I thought it wouldn't catch it". Refusal on random is part of the employee handbook paperwork they acknowledge and sign (along with the outcome of refusal).

As for suspicion, you get what you pay for and this is free advice....if you suspect, test the team they work on....if it is a team of three, your consistent and proveable 15% test might stand the labor board sniff test.

....if you have suspicions, pay for legal counsel that is versed in local/federal labor law. The low up front cost of this legal advice will surely be less than the wrongful termination suit, u/c board or EEOC suit you would likely face.

Hope that helps - good luck.

C, very helpful!

You mention 'random basis' and being 'consistent and impartial'. How does your organization ensure that? Does management pick who takes the drug test or is this controlled by a third party service?

The scenario I am thinking about is that someone in management or someone related to someone in management wants to avoid the test and they can try to 'pull strings' to not be on the random list.

How does one make sure that does not happen?

For us, it is an internal draw of everyone in the organization. If we chose to, we could have our payroll provider randomly select our employees. The consistent part is whatever percentage chosen, stay with it and have a moderately defensible position as to that number compared to another. The impartial part is make sure senior leaders get tested (if drawn) regardless if they are on the road or not.

As for string pulling, it's a cultural issue I suppose.....we just don't allow it and if someone wants strings pulled like that they will be flushed out of our company pretty quickly. Any system can likely be beaten, however, if senior leadership allows it to occur then the integrity of the company and leadership can be questioned.

For me, it isn't worth losing our high morale if, as the leader of multiple business units, I am going to ask my field guys to bust their tails and stay clean only to grant favors to those who are connected to the executive team. It is hard to gain everyone's trust and all in mentality and to just throw it away because of a connection or an employee you are partial to.

Related new article:

"All over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: They are struggling to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test."


"In August, Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia promised to develop a program to help because so many business owners tell him “the No. 1 reason they can’t hire enough workers is they can’t find enough people to pass a drug test.”

the No. 1 reason they can’t hire enough workers is they can’t find enough people to pass a drug test.

Its a really hard test :)