Many Employers Doing Away with Pre-employment Drug Screenings

By: Marie Donlon

According to a number of Human Resource experts, more and more employers are doing away with pre-employment drug screenings for marijuana use in a bid to attract employees.

“It is happening,” said Brian Kropp, group vice president at Gartner’s HR practice. “In all the conversations we’ve been having with executives about this issue, more and more of them are dropping it,” he said.

The competition for employee talent is increasing and “companies are feeling the near-record unemployment across the country today, making it increasingly difficult to hire,” said Alison Sullivan, career trends expert at Glassdoor. “When under pressure to find workers, some employers can re-examine existing company policies, practices and benefits as a way to remove hiring barriers and better fill jobs,” she said.

“In an extremely tight labor market, it’s difficult to get people,” said Abigail Wozniak, an associate professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame. “The need to attract workers and be able to keep people on board makes it hard to justify turning someone away unless you have a strong belief they can’t do the job.”

Another reason prompting the change in attitude about pre-employment marijuana testing is the matter of legalization in some states versus others. With over half of the states in the U.S. allowing some degree of marijuana use, human resource officials are presented with administrative issues concerning such requirements.

To simplify how relaxed attitudes about recreational marijuana use have become, attorney James Reidy, chair of the labor and employment group at the law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, said about testing for marijuana: “It’s an artificial barrier to employment...It’s no different than having a beer Sunday night.”