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Employers Struggle To Find Workers Who Can Pass A Drug Test 819

HughPickens.com writes: Jackie Calmes writes in the NYT that all over the country, employers say they see a disturbing downside of tighter labor markets as they try to rebuild from the worst recession since the Depression: the struggle to find workers who can pass a pre-employment drug test. The hurdle partly stems from the growing ubiquity of drug testing, at corporations with big human resources departments, in industries like trucking where testing is mandated by federal law for safety reasons, and increasingly at smaller companies. But data suggests employers' difficulties also reflect an increase in the use of drugs, especially marijuana -- employers' main gripe -- and also heroin and other opioid drugs much in the news. Data on the scope of the problem is sketchy because figures on job applicants who test positive for drugs miss the many people who simply skip tests they cannot pass. But Quest Diagnostics, which has compiled employer-testing data since 1988, documented a 10% increase in one year in the percentage of American workers who tested positive for illicit drugs -- up to 4.7 percent in 2014 from 4.3 percent in 2013.

With the software industry already plagued by a shortage of skilled workers, especially female programmers, some software companies think now would be the wrong time to institute drug testing for new employees, a move that would further limit the available talent pool. "The acceptability of at least marijuana has shifted dramatically over the last 20 years," says Carl Erickson. "If the standard limits those that have used marijuana in the last week, you're surely going to be limiting your pool of applicants." Erickson's decision not to drug test stems from a low risk of workplace injury for his workers combined with an unwillingness to pry into the personal lives of his employees. "My perspective on this is if they want to share their recreational habits with me, that's their prerogative, but I'm sure as hell not going to put them in a position to have to do it."
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Employers Struggle To Find Workers Who Can Pass A Drug Test

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  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:07AM (#52132685)

    Drop the test. Duh.

    • Let me guess, the only people that these ass hats can hire are from India?
    • Drop the test. Duh.

      What other countries in the world do this? I've never heard of it outside the stories I hear from the USA.

  • by Pascal Sartoretti ( 454385 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:17AM (#52132713)
    ... should see a business opportunity in this.
  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @03:40AM (#52132801)
    There are drug tests that can tell illicit cocaine from the stuff used in ophtalmology, heroin from opioids used for medical pain management, and illicit stimulants from their medically precribed cousins?

    I always thought drug tests only considered chemistry, not the legal aspects.

  • by xororand ( 860319 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @04:17AM (#52132899)

    Employers struggle to find robots who solely live to serve.

  • by shanen ( 462549 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @04:18AM (#52132903) Homepage Journal

    Workers Struggle to Find Employers Who Don't Require Drug Tests

    Fixed that for you.

    Seriously speaking, the war on drugs has made our society sick. Personally I don't use any recreational drugs, and I'm fortunate enough to already have a job, but the notion of submitting to a drug test if I want to eat based on my own honest efforts is just wrong.

    There are a couple of exceptional cases where routine-and-with-no-cause-for-suspicion drug testing might be justified, but they should be extremely rare exceptions in a healthy society.

  • by axewolf ( 4512747 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @04:34AM (#52132983)

    especially female programmers

    what the fuck

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @04:51AM (#52133035)
    Any talk about labor shortages is bullshit. What it really means is that they want to hire someone as close to 25 as they can find who already knows how to do the job. That way they get the cheapest labor from people with so little experience that they will not understand that they are being ripped off.

    It's the hunt for the cheap complaint single use disposable worker. Someone who will get booted out before they qualify for any long term benefits like the 401K plan or longer vacation. Typically this means less then 5 years on the job. Someone gets a shot at three of these positions and then they are "too old" to be hired. It's easy when when there is an entire new generation of suckers in the pipeline.

    And then there is the zero training requirement. The most job training that any company thinks they need is how to run a cash register. Anything beyond that is considered a waste of resources. Since the plan is always to flush the workers down the toilet why spend anything on training?

    It's not like people over 35 use no drugs at all, but as the article makes clear the younger someone is the more likely it is that they at least smoke pot. So looking at an older demographic would help with the so called shortage, except that it would subject business to real life market forces, which they hate. Remember that businesses avoid actual competition at all costs. They would much rather be monopolistic big fish in a small pond while rigging the game for guaranteed profit and screaming about the "ebil govment herting free enterprize".

  • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @05:05AM (#52133083) Homepage

    There was an article on this a few years ago. The issue was not that more people were using drugs. It was that commercial industry was diving right into the drug-testing and using tests/standards far beyond even that of the military and the FBI.
    It can be harder to pass a drug test to be a mail room clerk than an agent.

  • by James Keane ( 4387461 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @05:10AM (#52133097)
    I have had problems in the past where I have had a failed drug test in the past for Amphetamines, and was not told this until I kept challenging why I failed. It was only later this was a false positive for Methylphenidate, while being an illegal drug in the UK without prescription, I have one.

    If I hadn't have chased down why I failed it, it would have been upheld that I failed.

    I had even stated in the pre-test form that I take it, so something broke down in the chain. I did resent having to declare this however, as my ADHD management is my own business, not my employers if my management strategies mean I can perform.
  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @05:11AM (#52133099) Journal
    It's a refusal.

    Even though I never use any illegal drugs, I don't see this as any of my employer's business. If they want an employee to pee on demand, then they can get a dog.

    I'll find an employer that respects my dignity.
  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @05:29AM (#52133161)
    The whole problem is going to become far worse as more states legalize marijuana.

    While pretty much every study shows that marijuana does not impact a persons health, cognative abilities, nor is the cost to society in general anywhere near as high as alachol, employers where it is legal still screen and refuse to hire workers who have smoked a single time in the last month. Compare that to alachol where the health costs and cognative performance decline while under the influence is much higher yet is not tested for. It pretty much undermines the entire premise of the test.

    Companies need to pull the stick out of thier ass and hire people who legally enjoy themselves on their own time instead of adopting the corporate slave attitude where every minute of a persons life is controlled by the company. If you show up on time and are responsible that is what is important. Maybe France is onto something by considering a law to make it illegal to require workers to respond to emails and social media 24/7/365. Perhaps it's time for some legal reform in the USA to end the war on common sense since it seems companies are moving in the opposite direction.
  • by lkcl ( 517947 ) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @05:41AM (#52133199) Homepage

    wasn't there an article on slashdot a while back that pointed out that drug-usage is *not* addictive - it's the *circumstances* that people find themselves in which *drives* them towards attempting to "find happiness" in drugs. both that study of rats as well as the study of veterans from the vietnam war showed that the subjects were quotes totally addicted quotes to opiates when they were subjected to horrible conditions, but that the *moment* they were transported to a happier environment, then with a little bit of withdrawal symptoms they kicked the "habit".

    in other words, this study is telling us - through correlation NOT causation - that the number of unhappy americans is dramatically increasing. and that we're only just finding this out because of drug-testing.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @06:39AM (#52133395) Homepage

    Struggle to find them AT THAT PAY SCALE.

    Dear business owners, stop being greedy fucks and start paying higher wages, you will start attracting more people to apply and have a larger pool to choose from.

  • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @06:49AM (#52133425)
    "...a shortage of skilled workers, especially female programmers..."

    What's the ideal, desired, non-sexist/non-misogynist percentage now that it's 2016 - 51%? Shall no woman be left behind?

    I'll just go quietly to the correction booth for re-grooving myself; no need for the taser and handcuffs...
  • by ThatsNotPudding ( 1045640 ) on Wednesday May 18, 2016 @08:05AM (#52133781)
    I suspect this isn't an issue in Portugal (whose drug decriminalization successes you NEVER hear about in US corporate-controlled MSM).

    There is a crap-ton of money being made by the testing industry (and Quest is a big one), and is closely allied to the 'Law and Order' political whores owned by the Prison-Industrial complex (another massive money-making leach sucking the US dry).

    Cui bono; always Cui bono.

When a Banker jumps out of a window, jump after him--that's where the money is. -- Robespierre

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