Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy, employee drug screening, employment
Does your business currently have a drug testing policy in place? If not, you may consider creating one. If you do, you can improve your business and increase profits by conducting drug tests both when new employees are hired, as well as conducting random drug tests and screening after any kind of accident has occurred.
Here are a few ways you can see improvements in your company by drug testing, from a former human resources manager and director.
Find better workers.
When word gets around that your company conducts drug tests, you’re automatically able to screen out potential employees that won’t be able to pass drug tests — because they are less likely to apply for jobs at your business. You’ll receive higher-quality applicants that are more likely to show up on time and do their jobs efficiently, which will also provide the added benefit of making the work environment nicer for new and existing employees.
Reduce the number of accidents.
While it’s a good idea to continue to conduct random drug tests after an employee has been hired — especially after any kind of workplace accident — doing preliminary drug tests can dramatically improve work conditions due to improved safety for all workers; if employees care about the work they’re doing and are not impaired or absent during working hours, fewer mistakes and missteps are likely to happen. Likewise, fewer accidents mean your company will spend less on workers’ compensation claims and lost time.
Cut down on unnecessary expenses.
Hiring a new employee is more expensive than retaining a good one, and the costs of a bad hire are astronomical. Between the time spent on interviewing and background checking, productivity lost due to a position remaining unfilled for any length of time, and training new employees, your business may find itself eating funds it shouldn’t be.
Contact Mind Your Business for more information about how to implement a drug-testing policy and get started on screening, and see how your business can improve.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy, employment, failing drug tests
As more and more states continue to discuss the legalization of medical marijuana — or at least the decriminalization of possessing small quantities of the drug — employers must consider whether to update drug-testing policies and how to best deal with employees who test positive for a legal drug. However, when it comes to hiring workers from across state lines, legalization puts some employers in a bit of a pickle.
Medical marijuana usage is still illegal in more than half of the states. Employers in those states would, obviously, have their own drug-testing policies in place that would not have been changed, because their state’s laws have not changed. But if an employer in one of those states is considering hiring a candidate from outside the state — perhaps from one of the states in which marijuana is actually legal — it creates a confusing situation.
Should an applicant be denied a job in another state because he or she utilizes a drug that is legal in the state in which he or she resides?
One problem is that THC — the active ingredient in cannabis — can stay in the body for weeks or months after using the drug.
“If you’re a heavy smoker, you may never test below the limit, even thought you might not be impaired,” wrote Tony Coder, assistant director for the Drug Free Action Alliance in Columbus, Ohio.
Some employers choose to keep existing drug policies in place regardless of whether the applicant is coming from a state where the drug is legal, as even some employers in those states have zero-tolerance drug policies.
“We treat all employees the same [regardless of where they’re from],” said Mike Godwin, Human Resources VP for Eggleston Services, a hiring agency in Virginia. “It is a drug-free environment. Until the Commonwealth of Virginia decides to make a change, we wouldn’t make a change ourselves.”
Because the issue of marijuana legalization is such a gray area at this time, employers should make sure that existing drug-testing policies are followed consistently, regardless of where the applicant is from.
Officially, marijuana usage is illegal by federal law, but the administration has allowed the states to determine for themselves whether they want the drug legalized in their own states.
Posted in Department of Labor, employment
According to a news release from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has not changed since February, continuing to hold steady at 5.5 percent, or 8.6 million unemployed individuals. In March, 126,000 new jobs were added to the workforce, way down from the previous monthly average of 269,000 new jobs in the past year.
The number of people who are new to the workforce and have not previously held a job is also down by 342,000 for the past 12 months, from just over 1,000,000 individuals in March 2014. Within that time frame, 157,000 of those new entrants found jobs last month.
Of the 126,000 new jobs added in March, 40,000 were for professional and business services, primarily in architectural and engineering services, computer systems design, and management and technical consulting. Retail trade and health care also saw gains of 26,000 jobs and 22,000 jobs respectively; health care workers had more opportunities in ambulatory services (19,000 jobs) while nursing care facilities saw 6,000 jobs lost in March.
Similar to February 2015’s numbers, mining jobs continued to take a hit in March, with 11,000 jobs lost, primarily in support activities for oil and gas mining. So far in 2015, the mining industry has seen a loss of 30,000 mining jobs; only 41,000 mining jobs were created in 2014.
Other industries saw little to no change in employment numbers. Food and drinking places saw a slight increase in jobs (9,000); the construction, transportation, trade, manufacturing, information, government and financial sectors saw little change in their employment numbers.
Posted in background screening, ban the box, criminal background checks, employment
After last month’s Senate vote to pass statewide ban-the-box legislation, the Virginia House of Delegates approved the new measure and Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed it into law on April 3. The new law requires state government job applications to remove all questions about an applicant’s criminal history.
The law allows for background checks to be conducted on these individuals after the candidate has been found to be qualified for the job; according to the order, this will only happen after a candidate has been deemed eligible for a position, is being considered for a specific position, and has signed a waiver authorizing the state to conduct these checks.
Provided the candidate signs the waiver, he or she cannot be turned down for the job unless former convictions are specifically related to the position for which the candidate is applying, or if convictions prevent him or her from working in certain capacities.
“We should not seal the fate of every man and woman with a criminal record based on a hasty verdict,” said Gov. McAuliffe. “If they are eager to make a clean start and build new lives in their communities, they deserve a fair chance at employment.”
While the order only applies to state jobs, it encourages private employers to take similar action on their job applications. Several private employers, including Target and Wal-Mart, have already removed criminal history questions from job applications in Virginia.
Gov. McAuliffe also cited statistics about criminal history questions disproportionally screening out people of color; this law is an attempt to reduce the “unequal impact on our minority families,” according to Gov. McAuliffe.
According to the National Employment Law Project, an estimated 70 million Americans have some kind of criminal record.
Virginia is now the 15th state — not including Washington D.C. — to have ban-the-box legislation on the books.
photo credit: Application – pen via photopin (license)
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, failing drug tests
Although it has been seven years since the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the International Olympic Committee has plans to continue screening past competitors and medalists for performance-enhancing drugs. If it finds drugs in the samples that it collected before and during the 2008 Games, the IOC can still strip winners of their medals.
The IOC will also be testing samples from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2012 Summer Games in London, though those are of a lower priority, as the statute of limitations for drug-testing samples from athletes is 10 years.
The reason the IOC has waited so long to re-test the Beijing samples? Drug testing technology continues to improve over time, and newer tests may be able to detect drugs that six- and seven-year-old tests weren’t able to catch.
“Who knows what tests are going to be developed over the next two years?” asked IOC Medical Director Richard Budgett. “It makes a lot of sense to wait another couple of years for [testing the samples of] the majority.” Budgett estimates that the number of samples to be re-tested will be “in the hundreds.”
Some Olympians that were suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs back in 2008 — but were not caught — have already had their samples re-tested, and may continue to be re-tested until the statute of limitations runs out in 2018. (The statute of limitations was recently extended from eight years to 10, thanks to the World Anti-Doping Code.)
Those athletes that are likely to be competing in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games may also have their past samples more heavily scrutinized.
At least six athletes from the 2008 and 2012 Games have already been stripped of their medals since re-testing began. Samples from previous Olympics have been stored in a Swiss laboratory since 2004.
photo credit: BEIJING OLYMPICS via photopin (license)
Posted in criminal background checks, prescription drugs
In mid-March the New Mexico state Senate and House of Representatives both, separately, approved measures that take steps to decriminalize marijuana and ensure that licensed medical marijuana providers do not have felony criminal records.
State legislators have made clear that, despite these new bills, the state is not yet ready to legalize cannabis.
“This is not legalization,” said Senate bill sponsor Sen. Joseph Cervantes. “This is decriminalization of less than one ounce.”
Decriminalizing possession of less than one ounce of marijuana barely passed Senate scrutiny, with a vote of 21-20. It appears that the bill did not survive the House chopping block. That bill suggested tickets and $50 fines for possession of less than an ounce, and also lesser penalties — though still a misdemeanor charge — for possession of up to eight ounces of the drug.
Slightly less controversial was the House Bill, which would require medical marijuana providers to pass criminal background checks. That bill passed the House 34-24, and would disqualify job applicants from being considered to work in medical marijuana dispensaries or for licensed producers if the applicant has previous drug-related felonies on their record. Ensuring this would require fingerprint background checks and criminal background checks to be set up through the Department of Health.
“I think what we’re trying to do is take a preemptive step to make sure the program stays steady and there are no problems with it,” said sponsor Rep. Paul Pacheco.
According to Pacheco, the state has 23 licensed providers registered in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, and 387 people are employed within the program.
Posted in EEOC, employment, Federal law
A few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court began to hear a religious discrimination case that began back in 2008. In that case, then-17-year-old Samantha Elauf was interviewed for a job at an Abercrombie Kids in Oklahoma, and received high scores and an indication that she would be called back for orientation. She never received that call, and a friend who worked at the store told her that it was because the headscarf Elauf wore in the interview was not compatible with the company’s dress code. Elauf is Muslim, and wears a headscarf in public.
After her case was brought to court in 2011, Elauf received $20,000 in damages, but soon afterwards that award was overturned in a higher court because Elauf had not requested a religious exemption from Abercrombie’s dress code at the time of the interview.
So does the responsibility fall on the individual to request religious exemptions at the time of the interview, or on the company to make those exceptions without it being formally requested in instances where religious expression is clearly at play? The Supreme Court is expected to determine that, likely within the next few months.
In the meantime, employers can avoid getting sued for religious discrimination by erring on the side of caution. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protects applicants or employees from being discriminated against due to religious garb and grooming practices, and employers are expected to provide reasonable accommodation for an applicant or employee’s beliefs in regards to their appearance, provided that doing so does not provide “undue hardship” on the business.
For all applicants, regardless of religion or appearance, companies should take care to ensure applicants are aware that a job offer is contingent on being able to perform essential job functions and meet conditions such as dress code. If it appears that an applicant may be in need of an exemption, the EEOC agrees that “the employer and the employee should engage in an interactive process to discuss the request” at the point of hire.
Posted in drug screening, drug testing, drug testing policy, employee drug screening, prescription drugs
At the end of February, Alaska officially legalized recreational use of marijuana for citizens that are over the age of 21. However, employers in the state — and in fact, across the country in other states in which recreational or medical cannabis is used — find that they are not sure how to handle employee drug tests when the drug in question is no longer illegal.
Alaska has a large number of jobs in oil, gas, transportation and similar fields, where safety is of the utmost importance, and so of course employers are concerned about employees arriving to work impaired. But it may take some individuals taking their cases to court before it is determined how far employers may go in reprimanding or even firing employees for marijuana use, when it is on the employees’ own time and is not affecting the ability to work.
Similar problems have arisen in Colorado, and at least one court case has found its way to the state Supreme Court. There is also a precedent in Alaska from a state Supreme Court case in 1982, that employees may be fired for failing drug tests provided there is a “nexus between the use and the work.”
Neither state, nor any of the others that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, can take cues from federal law, as marijuana usage is still illegal at the federal level.
The legislation that allowed marijuana legalization to be voted on in Alaska — ballot measure 2 — stated that “[employers] have the right to make up their own rules about cannabis use.” Of course, it goes without saying that disciplinary action may be taken against an employee who shows up to work under the influence of any drug or alcohol.
“Alcohol is legal, but I imagine most jobs, if you show up drunk, you’re getting fired or disciplined,” said Jason Brandeis of the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Justice Center.
The issue with drug testing for marijuana is that traces of cannabis can remain in one’s system for days or even weeks after use, so it can be difficult to determine when the drug was actually used.
One human resources consultancy has begun teaching classes for employers about how to create drug-testing policies that make it clear what company expectations are regarding drug use. Other employers think existing drug policies are still fine and should be left as-is.
Posted in babysitter, babysitting, background checks, nanny background checks, potential babysitter
Whether you’re looking to hire live-in help for your kids, need a five-day-a-week day care center or just need to find a sitter now and then, you want the best care you can give your children while you’re away. Hiring a nanny or day care that you can trust can seem like a difficult task if you don’t know where to start.
In order to ensure that your children will receive excellent care from a qualified and trustworthy individual, you’ll want to ensure that any potential caregiver has been properly and thoroughly screened. Here are six ways to ensure that your family will be in great hands.
Get references. Do you know other parents who entrust their children to a care center or nanny? Ask those families who they use, and whether they like and trust the people that are around their children. Find out who the individual caregivers are if it’s some kind of group care.
Contact previous families. A good nanny or babysitter will have a list of references of previous families they’ve worked for, and that’s a great place to start getting an idea of how this person works with the families and the children. If possible, try to set up an in-person meeting to interview former or current families. Write down questions you have so you don’t forget anything important when you’re interviewing.
Look at caregiver agencies. If you’re not able to get references from friends or colleagues, contact local nanny agencies and daycare centers. Speak with the directors and the individuals that work at the center. Ask about what kind of background checks they conduct and how often, and about any certifications or licenses they have. (The latter will help you determine if they are a reputable center or agency, and that they have the proper knowledge to keep your children safe in case of emergency.)
Check out individual certifications. Whether you’re checking out a care center or an individual nanny, ask what certifications the individual caregiver(s) have, and ask to see copies of licenses and certificates. Things like CPR and first aid certificates are a good start, and you can usually verify that they are accurate and up-to-date.
Conduct your own checks. Utilize a background screening company to conduct criminal history checks and employment verification to ensure the caregiver is who they say they are, and that they don’t have a criminal record.
Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t work with that person, center or agency. You have to trust the people that will be working with your family in order to feel confident about the care your kids are receiving.
For more information about conducting background checks on childcare providers, contact Mind Your Business.
Posted in EEOC, employment
In mid-March, Utah joined 18 other states — including the District of Columbia — in passing legislation preventing employers from discriminating against potential or current employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill that will amend the Utah Antidiscrimination Act.
The law does have some exceptions when it comes to defining which employers are required to adopt this law; due to the high population of Mormon residents, the bill exempts religious organizations and institutions from having to instate anti-discrimination practices, despite the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ stated support of the anti-discrimination law. (The law also exempts the Boy Scouts of America, though their website only lists the organization as a “values-based youth development organization” and not strictly a religious organization.)
The passing of this anti-discrimination law is great news for employees in Utah, though until the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission formally recognizes sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal law, there is some risk of this newly signed law being overturned in the future, putting these same individuals back at risk of losing their jobs. (An example of this recently occurred in Kansas, as the state’s governor overturned anti-discrimination laws that were created via Executive Order by a previous governor; those laws had been in effect for eight years before being revoked by the current administration.)
The EEOC has recently gotten involved in a few lawsuits related to the treatment of transgender employees and job applicants. It is not clear if or when gender identity or sexual orientation might become protected under federal law.
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