Employers Addressing Substance Use Disorders Save By
Disseminating Treatment-Friendly Workplace Policies
Every business should have clear policies on alcohol and drug problems. All employees should know their company's policies and understand their rights and responsibilities. The policies can be distributed at orientation sessions for new employees and in posters and publications.
The U.S. Department of Labor provides many helpful resources to help businesses develop alcohol and drug policies tailored to their industry and to individual company needs.
Most companies with safety-sensitive transportation employees in the aviation, motor carrier, railroad and mass transportation sectors must have policies and programs regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Ensuring Solutions has identified the likely occurrence of serious substance use disorders in 14 major occupational groups. Construction workers have the substance use disorders — over 15 percent, followed by workers in the entertainment, sports, and media workers (12 percent) and workers in the service industry (12 percent). Professional workers, and workers in the education field were approximately half as likely to have a substance use disorder.
The federal government encourages an approach to company policies established through the Drug-Free Workplace programs. Companies doing business with the federal government and with many state governments are required by law to have these programs. In 11 states, companies with comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace programs get a bonus: 5-10 percent reductions in their workers' compensation premiums. The Department of Labor has a complete listing of Drug-Free Workplace laws, including those on workers' compensation premium reductions.
Did you know: Random drug testing during employment, followed by immediate firing of an offending employee, may be more costly for the employer than assuring access to treatment because replacing an employee costs from 25 percent to almost 200 percent of his or her annual compensation – not to mention the loss of institutional knowledge, service continuity, and coworker productivity and morale that can accompany employee turnover.
There are many reasons employees do not come forward to get treatment. Many fear that seeking substance treatment through their company Employee Assistance Program or health plan will get back to their employer and lead to termination or retaliation. Sometimes, their fears are well grounded. When employees know that their employer will assist them in getting help and will not punish them for getting treatment, they are more likely to come forward.