Sunday, March 25, 2012

Florida's state employee drug testing requirement more intrusive than the private sector

HR specialist Eva Del Rio pretty much nails it in her column about why Governor Scott's drug testing law is not a good idea and she dispels the myth that the state is now in line with the private sector.....

Drug-testing law is not a good idea

Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 23, 2012 at 4:14 p.m.
Q: What’s wrong with Gov. Rick Scott signing a law requiring state workers to submit to random drug testing?

A: According to The Miami Herald, Scott said the drug testing legislation is no different than what already goes on in the business world.

“Private companies do the exact same thing,” he said.
At face value, his statement sounds perfectly reasonable. We all want state employees to be subject to the same rigorous standards as private sector employees. However, this law goes far beyond that, and will require much more than what’s now common in the private sector.
First, a primer. There are generally four types of drug testing:
  • Pre-employment.
  • Reasonable suspicion.
  • Post-accident/injury.
  • Random.
Most private companies who have a drug-free workplace program only require the first three. Private companies generally do not conduct random drug testing of their general workforce. Why? Because it’s unnecessary, expensive and intrusive.
The shotgun approach doesn’t address a need or correct a problem. In other words, it’s not good business. In the rare cases when random testing exists, it’s targeted to safety-sensitive positions.
The governor implies that the law was needed because state and public sector employees had more lenient testing than their private-sector counterparts, when in fact the opposite is true. Public employees are already subject to all four types of testing, including random, if, for example, a job requires the employee “to carry a firearm, perform life-threatening procedures or work with controlled substances” or a job “in which a momentary lapse in attention could result in injury or death to another person.”

So why pass a law that serves only to expand the pool of employees who must be randomly tested so that it now includes the entire state workforce? Why spend all that money on a problem that doesn’t exist? I frankly don’t know.

What I do know is this: Private-sector employers do not randomly test employees indiscriminately, across the board. Any politician who claims otherwise in order to justify passing a wasteful law is being disingenuous at best.

So, don’t be fooled by the sound bite. Learn more.

Eva Del Rio is a human resources consultant and business owner. Send questions to askeva@hrproondemand.com or find her on Facebook.

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