CONNIE’S CAREER CORNER “Having a Drug-Free Workplace”

Tip for the Day: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Q: Dear Connie: Can you give me information about the Drug-Free Workplace Program? I have heard that my company may save money by implementing it.

A: Dear Drug-Free Workplace Employee: The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDOL&WD) provides some startling statistics regarding drug use in the workplace. For instance, nearly 70% of current users of illegal drugs are employed. One-third of employees know of the sale of illegal drugs in the workplace. Between 38% and 50% of Worker’s Compensation claims are related to drug abuse in the workplace. The use of illegal drugs in the workplace impacts productivity causes higher rates of absenteeism, and results in higher rates of turnover.

To counteract this growing problem, the Tennessee legislature created the Drug-Free Workplace Program. This voluntary program provides many benefits to participating employers. According to the TDOL&WD, employers who participate are given a 5% credit on their workers’ insurance policy. Also, if an employee is discharged because they are found to be in violation of the policy, it will be considered “for cause” which means that the employee will probably be unable to collect unemployment benefits. Finally, if an employee is injured on the job the burden of proof is shifted from the employer to the employee if that employee either fails a post accident drug test or refuses to take a post accident drug test.

If you are a small business owner, implementing this program may be beneficial to you and your business. A very small percentage of small and medium size businesses participate in this program even though most Americans work in small or medium size businesses. Having a program in place can protect your business interests and the people that you employee. 

The TDOL&WD has free materials, including posters, sample letters to employees, and a directory of resources, available to any company who is interested in implementing this program. You can receive more information by calling 1-800-332-2667 or by visiting http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/dfwp.shtml .

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