In most occasions, work has been said to influence individuals working for the organizations to use and abuse drugs substances as well as alcohol. The most influence is derived from work places that are associated high levels of stress, the job positions that require long hours of work and those that lack job security. The other influence is from jobs, which will make the employee be isolated from other people in the society for a long time in addition to other factors, which come as a result of the culture of the organization.
Such kind of work places which are mostly associated with use of alcohol and other drug substances include; mining and transportation services, as well as building and construction among many others. As a result of the changes of various environmental factors like economic conditions, individuals in other work places which are considered as less stressful indulge themselves in the use of alcohol and other illegal drugs.
The reason for this is because, such changes in the environmental factors cause stressful conditions like job insecurity, long hours of working accompanied by heavy work loads, these factors are the leading contributors in influencing individuals to indulge in drug substance abuse. The most obvious effect of drug abuse and use of alcohol is that, it impairs the general work performance of individuals working in an organization, thus affecting the general performance of the organization.
In consideration of the above negative effects that the use of alcohol and other illegal drugs cause on the employees of the organization, the employers have focused attention on this issue in trying to improve the work performance and the working environments of the various employees within an organization. One of the measures, which the various employers have undertaken in addressing these issues, is the use testing techniques in their employment practices. This research paper will focus on the various issues, which are involved in carrying out drug and alcohol testing in the contemporary organizations.
Drug and alcohol testing in work places In the current business environment operations, the issue of testing employees on the use of drugs and alcohol substances has raised concern in most organizations, as to the various ethical issues involved in carrying out such tests. In most occasions the drug and alcohol tests are carried out in the recruitment process of the organizations, whereby potential employees of an organization are required to present drug and substance abuse results, before the potential employer can take them in to work with their organizations (Repa, p178).
In other cases, the employer will use the services of a medical expert, to carry out the testing procedures on their potential employees. In most situations, the various laws that govern the management of the recruitment of employees have tried to establish balances in the application of testing procedures, as part of the recruitment process so as to protect the privacy of the employees as well as encourage the employers in their efforts to create the work places drug free.
Due to the rising concerns that pertain to the privacy and accuracy, the various laws that are being used in controlling drug and alcohol testing have been designed in a way that varies from state to state, this in consideration of the fact that the practice of carrying out drug and alcohol testing has to be carried out, so as to improve the society within which the human beings live in (Wolper, p318). Impact of alcohol and drug abuse
As discussed in (Steingold and Schroeder, p24) alcohol and drug abuse has been demonstrated to cause a lot of damage to the well being of the organizations. This could either be whereby individuals are involved in use of illegal drug substances like cocaine, marijuana among others like heroine or in the use of such drug substances in carrying out recreational activities. When individuals working in an organization use such drug substances, the organization is likely to incur high costs in terms of economical and human management costs.
Some of the direct costs include lose on the production levels of an organization, whereby the performance standards deteriorate, because the drugs physically impair the physical energy that individuals need to carry out their various duties in the organizations. The indirect costs imposed by drug and alcohol abuse includes; high rates of employee turnover from organizations, as well as poor decision making by the various employees involved in such actions bundled with employee stress. In other extreme cases, the use of alcohol and other illegal drug substances has been said to cause a number of death cases in various parts of the world.
The reason for the death cases is because such drug substances impair most body chemical reactions like blood circulation and respiration which result to incurable diseases like those associated with the liver and diabetes among many others (lawyers article online). Significance of carrying out the test One of the most important considerations that are made on the importance of carrying out alcohol and drug test results are that, it is one of the ways that the employers are making moves towards improving the total quality of the products and services, that the organizations provide to the various consumers.
In carrying out such moves, the employers ensure that the employees are in a state, in which they can be able to carry out their various tasks with accuracy so as to minimize the risks, which result when inappropriate measures are taken in the production processes (Steingold, p280). For example it is important that an employer in the vehicle manufacturing industry to ensure that, the workers working in the various sections of his or her organization are able to fix the various parts of the vehicle in an appropriate way.
This can be achieved only if the workers are not under the influence of drugs and alcohol, to be able to make necessary adjustments in the fixation of the various parts of the vehicle. If the vehicle parts are not fixed well, the vehicle is likely to cause accidents, when it is being used for the intended purposes. Some of the major issues, which have been raised in relation to alcohol and drug testing, pertain to employee privacy and accuracy of the test results, considering the various techniques that the employers use to carry out the tests (Wolper, p318).
Employee privacy This is one of the major issues, that has been raised as far as drug and alcohol testing is concerned. Since most employers are required by the provisions that are made by the laws regulating alcohol and drug testing, to carry out testing for drug substances like alcohol and other illegal drugs, concerns have been raised that in carrying out such tests, the employers intrude the privacy of their potential and already existing employees.
The reasons that have been raised to explain the intrusion to the privacy of the employees touch on various issues such as; in carrying out urine tests as part of the techniques of carrying out the tests the individuals that are involved, experience some form of humiliation as well as shame. This is in considering to the fact that, the individuals consider that the urine could be used to carry out a range of medical tests like presence of venereal diseases among others, other than the one intended thus intruding on the privacy of such individuals (Repa, p178 ).
The other reasons that have been raised that pertain to privacy is that, the test results tend to limit individuals from involvement in relaxation activities, that involve occasional consumption of drug substances especially alcohol. This in consideration of the fact that most people do not consider alcohol to be illegal, provided that it is taken in measured quantities in occasional situations like weekends, parties and other social gatherings.
In that way the individuals feel that, by carrying out the alcohol and drug testing, the employers are limiting their freedom (Rom and Markowitz, p876). On the other hand, the test results can expose other medical conditions like pregnancy, diabetes and other conditions like epilepsy, which the employee would not wish to disclosure to third parties. This is in considering the various effects, which are likely to result once such kind of information gets to the parties, which the employee would not want to know.
For example, if the military employer discovers that the potential employee is pregnant at the time of recruitment, the employer is likely to postpone the hiring decision at that given point in time, thus making the potential employee lose the job opportunity (Keller et al, p23b-27). Even though the various employers in different organizations are required by law to carry out alcohol and drug testing on their employees, and considering the privacy concerns that have been raised in relation to such tests, various countries have adopted systems of carrying the tests.
Such systems include random testing, in cases of jobs that are considered to be very sensitive, and also for public safety jobs as well as in cases where the employees are under the rehabilitation programs. On the other hand, some states have authorized the testing programs to be carried out, and in such cases the testing is not made know to either the employees or other parties. Some other states provide that, before an employer carries out the alcohol and drug testing, it should be established that there is reasonable suspicion that the employees are using those substances.
And by testing, it will be a way of confirming the suspicion that has been raised (lawyers article online). In addition to that, some states require that before the suspicion concerns can be raised in reference to given employees, as to the use of alcohol and other illegal drug substances, there must be a high probability that the suspicion is true. This is to avoid situations where the results are negative, even though the individuals seemed to be users of such drug substances, thus humiliating those individuals.
In other circumstances, some countries as well as states will do away with such regulations, and exceptions can only be made where the employer is able to promise that, support will be offered to individuals that test positive in relation to the use of alcohol and other illegal drug substances (Karch p33). Accuracy of the results The other issue that has been raised in alcohol and drug testing pertains to the accuracy of the results, which result from alcohol and drug testing.
It has been established by various research results that, in most occasions the equipments that are used to carry out those tests are cheap screening kits, which cannot be able to give clear results of the test. Most of those equipments have probabilities of making errors of up to 15%, thus cannot be relied on to make accurate presence of drug and alcohol components in the blood system of an individual, as this is one of the body components that first registers the presence of such substances in the body system (Ghodse, p89).
Besides the unreliable testing equipments, accuracy concerns have been raised as concerning the personnel that are used to carry out the testing of alcohol and illegal drug substances. In most occasion the persons who are charged with the responsibility of carrying of the testing programs, do not qualify to carry out such practices which raises questions as to whether they understand the various procedures, that they are carrying out leave alone the interpretations that they will give to the given test results.
Given that the personnel that carry out the testing of alcohol and illegal drug substances do not meet the qualifications, that are needed and also even if the qualifications are met because the number of individuals involved in the testing are many, there is a high probability that the various specimens that are used to carry out the tests can be tampered with either by mislabeling or mixing them in the process of carrying out the test experiments. In that way, the accuracy of the results from the tests are compromised (lawyers article online).
In addition to that, urine is the most common specimen that is used in carrying out the alcohol and drug testing. This kind of specimen is not able to provide accurate test results, given that the specimen cannot be able to establish whether or not during the testing exercise an individual is impaired. On the other hand, the urine specimen has a probability of indicating positive results for food substances in diet pills as well as herbal teas among many other food components, as the presence of alcohol and illegal drugs.
This affects the accuracy of the results as it will communicate different results, which will influence wrong decisions to be made by the management of the organization, as regarding to the attraction and retention of employees to the organization (Westerholm et al, p151). So as to be able to come up with ways to deal with the accuracy concerns in alcohol and drug testing, various companies that carry out such programs are encouraged to carry out a number of tests, so as to come up with accurate conclusive results.
Usually the initial test results tend to be inaccurate, so there is need to carry out other tests to confirm the results, which have been achieved in the first results. In relation to the accuracy of the alcohol and drug testing results, the existing laws and regulations have made provisions that, individuals who try to tamper with the results of the given test programs by either diluting or using other chemical substances to tamper with the results of the tests and also substituting the different specimens, will be charged of criminal liability Which is heavily punished by law once evidence has been established (Teresa 2004).
Occasions when drug tasting is carried out As discussed in (Palmer et al, p536), there are many occasions when alcohol and drug testing practices are carried out in organizations. Some of the situations include, when various individuals are seeking to be employed to various organizations. In such circumstances, the employers may require that the potential employees undergo through an alcohol and drug test, as part of the requirements for a given job position.
The other occasions when drug testing is likely to be carried out is, when organizations decides to carry out random testing programs, so as to establish the health status of the employees in carrying out their various especially for job positions that are considered to be very sensitive in the society. The other occasion is when for example accidents have occurred in the organization, and by carrying out the drug test, the organization is trying to establish the actual cause of the accident, whether or not drugs were the contributing factors.
In other occasions, drug testing can be part of the schedules of the organization, whereby such exercises are carried out on a routine basis so as to monitor the general welfare of the individuals working in an organization, in order to sustain high performance standards. In addition to that, alcohol and drug testing can be carried out in the organizations when the management of the organization is carrying out rehabilitation programs, for individuals that have been affected by the use of such drug substances.
In such situations, carrying out drug tests will be one of the ways that the organization will use to establish the employees who are undergoing such difficulties, and in return will react to the problems at hand. This is to encourage the employees to remain drug free following the treatment (international labour organization). Significance of the test results In most occasions, the negative alcohol and drug test results have much less impact to the both the management of the organization and its employees as compared to the effect of the positive results.
In various states and countries around the world, the various actions that are taken for individuals who have positive results in relation to alcohol and drug test vary. In such occasions there are different actions that are taken for individuals who test positive for such tests, as well as when an individual refuses to undergo through that test. Some of the actions which are taken include; allowing the employers to take disciplinary measures against such individuals.
In such situations, the actions that most employers take include, termination of the employment contract whereby no further confirmatory testing results are required (Fahmy 2007). In other situations, the actions that are taken for positive alcohol and drug test results include ensuring that the employer to carry out further tests, so as to confirm the results that have been established before. In such circumstances confirmatory testing is not done at the expense of the employer.
Following the confirmatory testing, the employer is allowed to use the disciplinary actions, which will be considered to be appropriate at that given point in time. In other situations upon discovery that employees are involved in alcohol and drug substance abuse, some laws and regulations will require that such an individual to enroll with organizations that offers rehabilitation programs and this is usually supposed to be done at the expense of the individual that is involved in alcohol and drug abuse (Peg 2007).
In addition to that, the various laws and regulations that protect the rights of the employees at the workplace do not provide further protective measures, against the various disciplinary measures that the employers may take on the employees who have been involved in alcohol and drug testing issues, if such persons are not actively involved in rehabilitation programs.
The other legal measures that are taken against employees who fall victim of alcohol and drug abuse and especially when such person are found in possession of such drug substances, is that once their employment contract has been terminated, the individual stands at a risk of losing a right to the various employees’ compensation packages and other benefits like unemployment benefits which is detrimental to the social welfare of the individual in then society (Midford, p42-56).
In relation to drug and alcohol testing, some laws have made various provisions that allow the employees to take legal actions against their employers, to be compensated for the damages that will have been caused to them as a result of the drug and alcohol testing practices that have been carried on them that do not meet the required standards. In such situations, the legal protection is given to the employees if the disciplinary action fails to meet the set statutes. In addition to that, injunctive relief is offered, whereby the employers will be restrained from carrying out such actions.
Finally, individuals can be able to obtain equitable relief from their employers, whereby the employees can be allowed to carry on with their various jobs by reinstatement as well as obtain the withheld compensation packages and other employees benefits. In some occasions, individuals will be allowed to obtain punitive damages, depending on the provisions that are made in a given state or country as regards to rights and duties of employees in the work place in relation to alcohol and drug testing (Holland and Wickham, p55-60).
Conclusion Even though the testing and abuse of alcohol and other illegal drug substances may be considered as an issue, that the employers of an organization need to reconsider in their strategic plans in an organization. It is a critical issue that needs combined efforts of the employees and employers, so as to be bale to carry out the necessary changes. The research paper has illustrated that, use of alcohol and other illegal drug substances affect the work performance capability of the employees.
The causes of alcohol abuse and that of other drug substances is considered to be within the control of the both the employers, and also the various individuals that are working in the organization. The reason as to why coordinated efforts are required in effectively addressing this issue. If employees are isolated from the organization once the test results indicate the use of these substances, the problem will not be solved as a replacement is not a solution to the problem. References Holland and Wickham. Drug testing in the work place: unraveling the issues.
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