The most commonly used drug test for pre-employment is the urine test. It is inexpensive and can identify drugs that have been used in the last few days up to 30 days before the test is taken. The 5-panel drug test that is commonly used for this purpose checks for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, PCPs, and opiates.
Urine tests can also detect other drugs if a 10-panel drug test is given. These can test for LSD, MDA, inhalants, methadone, propoxyphene, barbiturates, or alcohol, and more employers are beginning to use these for pre-employment screening rather than 5-panel tests. Employers who have already hired a worker may require a urine test for these drugs if they suspect drug use or if there has been an on-the-job accident.
It is possible for a job applicant or current employee to fail a urine test because of taking over-the-counter drugs. These drugs can cause a false positive test result. Some of the commonly used drugs are Ibuprofen, Sudafed, Vicks 44, Ephedrine diet pills, and others. If there is any question about a positive test result, the testing company will contact the worker and find out if the person is taking any legally prescribed drugs that may have caused this reaction. Many drug testing facilities have a Medical Review Officer who is a physician who reviews the test results. This doctor often contacts those with positive test results. A second test could be performed on the second vial of urine that is saved just for this purpose. This second test is more expensive than the routine first urine test, but employers who are very interested in hiring an applicant or in keeping a good employee may want to invest in this testing. Sometimes workers or job applicants offer to pay for the second testing when they know that they have not used illegal drugs.
Many large corporations, including Fortune 500 companies, require urine testing for pre-employment. It is becoming uncommon not to require it. Even small businesses are realizing the benefits of urine drug testing. It can prevent those who abuse drugs from working for a company, and it can eliminate drug abusers who are already hired. Many problems are prevented for employers who require urine drug testing. In fact, employers find that pre-employment drug testing eliminates employees who have drug problems, preventing the applicant’s problem from becoming the company’s problem.
Urine drug testing is not expensive to do. It costs most small to medium companies anywhere from $50 to $80 per test, and typically the testing company will take care of the paperwork and follow up. When there is more volume of testing, those prices can be lower. The testing fee will be much less than the employer will have to pay for the problems that hiring a person with a drug problem could bring to the company. Right Management Survey found that “the replacement cost of a bad hire is up to three times the salary of the job in question.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, drug use costs businesses $75 to $100 billion dollars annually. Health care and workers compensation insurance costs are higher, there is more chance of an accident happening, and more time off work, not to even mention loss of productivity.