Employers do not have the right to conduct random workplace drug testing without the consent of the employee. However, the right to conduct drug testing has now become a standard condition in many contracts of employment. With increasing numbers of our population becoming habitual drug users, both illicit and prescription, employers feel entitled to be pro active in keeping drug abusers out of the workplace environment. Employees who use drugs for medicinal and recreational purposes often see this attitude as infringing civil liberty.
Everyone agrees that to be under the influence of drugs in the workplace can create a hazardous situation for the employee, co workers and the general public. Few question a zero tolerance of and breath testing for alcohol on mine sites, for drivers carrying freight on road or rail, pilots of aircraft or drivers of school buses and public transportation. However, does it really matter if someone shows traces of cannabis in their system when their responsibility is limited to fixing a few screws at one minute intervals on a production line.
Most people accept that paid employment implies restriction of liberty. You prioritize work next day over an invitation to a party, and security of employment over the desire for an immediate holiday. Finding a balance between what we need for financial survival and enjoyment of life is something that we all have to resolve,
When the demands of survival require that we sell our “soul” to the company structure, you get compliant robots, or people who accept the need for compliance –but inwardly rebel.
Workplace drug testing needs to strike a balance between safety and reliability in the workplace, and a person’s freedom to use their personal time in the way they choose.
Many of the conflicts that arise about workplace drug testing are a “coalface” symptom of pressure from those on top and rebellion from those beneath on the socio-economic scale. Conflicts about workplace drug testing are often more about issues of power and control than genuine concern for welfare.
Employers want accident free reliability for financial reasons – people can do what they like provided it doesn’t encroach into company time. Employees often use drugs knowing that they will be hung over or coming down whilst at work – it can be an expression of lack of respect for the workplace environment, and the “boss”.
An issue not often looked at, much less investigated, is the use of illicit drugs and alcohol by those deemed to be in control of the workplace and the employees. Most CEO’s have to answer to others who only demand results. Some CEO’s in response to the pressure are caught speeding, DUI or doing illicit drugs. In between doing drugs – they have to make important decisions. No one has yet made drug testing compulsory before you take a seat in the boardroom, or before a nation declares war.
Deadlines take many forms – time clocks, hourly billing rates, unrealistic time schedules and tight financial constraints. People often feel that time spent in the workplace environment is much like being a performing mouse trapped inside a wheel. When pressure to perform at work becomes compulsive and oppressive, instead of taking the risk of unemployment by having too many “sickies” – people often turn to drug use for headaches, and general malaise.
Many people if truly honest would say they are “sick to death” of workplace issues and pressures. Very often today people can only speak the truth by making joke about it or using a figure of speech.