Employee Drug Testing

T-GGD-88-14: Published: Apr 21, 1988. Publicly Released: Apr 21, 1988.

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GAO reviewed 10 private-sector drug testing surveys to summarize their information concerning the extent and nature of employee drug testing in the private sector. GAO found that: (1) drug testing was a common, but not universal practice in the private sector; (2) firms with a larger number of employees were more likely to have drug testing; (3) many firms that were not testing at the time of the survey indicated that they planned to do so in the future; (4) the majority of the firms used urinalysis and hired independent laboratories to perform the testing; (5) most firms performed confirmatory retests if the initial test was positive, but generally retested employees rather than applicants; (6) most firms tested for cause, such as after an accident, or for selected jobs, such as those involving safety; (7) firms cited improving workplace safety, increasing productivity, curbing illegal drug trafficking, and reducing employee medical costs as reasons for drug testing; (8) firms cited ethical and moral implications and the cost and reliability of drug testing as reasons for not testing; (9) although most firms would not hire applicants who tested positive, they indicated that they would allow reapplication later; (10) most firms indicated that they would tell applicants testing positive why they did not hire them; and (11) most firms preferred rehabilitation, rather than dismissed, for employees who tested positive.

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