Employee Drug Testing:

Information on Private Sector Programs

GGD-88-32: Published: Mar 2, 1988. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information regarding private sector businesses' drug testing policies and practices.

GAO found that: (1) many, but not a majority of, companies have drug testing programs; (2) firms with large numbers of employees were more likely to have drug testing programs; (3) firms were more likely to test under certain circumstances, such as after an accident, than to test on a random or periodic basis; (4) most firms used independent laboratories for drug testing, with urinalysis the preferred method; (5) most firms retested employees who initially tested positive for drug use; (6) firms cited such goals as increasing work place safety, increasing productivity, curbing illegal drug traffic, and reducing employee medical costs for having drug testing programs; and (7) some firms cited ethical and moral implications, the unreliability of the testing process, and cost as reasons for not having such programs. GAO also found that: (1) firms were more likely to test job applicants than current employees; (2) most firms would not hire job applicants who tested positive for drug use, but would tell the applicants why they were not hired; and (3) many firms referred employees who tested positive to drug rehabilitation programs.

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