Here is the response to part 1.
Drug Use in the Workplace
Drug use is information that is rightfully private and only in exceptional cases can an employer claim a right to know about such use.
The opposition to this statement is primarily in the part that says "only in exceptional cases". Every employer that is paying someone to do a job in their company has a right to know if they can expect a certain level of competence and accountability. In addition to this, an employer has a right to know if an illegal substance is on his property. Whether it is in the body of an employee or not.
Employers have a right to know about employee drug use. Consider answering this question. Would you want to know if a surgeon, doctor prescribing medication, lawyer, teacher, cable guy, or anyone that is doing a service for you or someone you love is using drugs? it is probably safe to say each of these jobs involve an employer of some type. If one of these workers accidentally made a mistake that cost a customer money, health issues, or even death who would be accountable? Most likely the employer first, then the employee.
In the case of a drug having no effect on employee performance it would depend on the drug. Even an aspirin can cause drowsiness. How does anyone know how it would affect performance? Do they conduct ‘a before using the drug test and an after using the drug test to validate performance‘? Probably not till after the chauffeur who took a couple pills, crashes a car full of teenage passengers into a semi truck, then frankly it is too late.
If the drug constitutes a serious health risk. Yes the employer has a right to know. The employer is responsible for all workers in his business. If another employee is infected because of one posing a serious health risk, this contagion could spread throughout the staff causing multiple illnesses. For example if an employee has to take a drug that could cause allergic reactions for others in the workplace, the employer needs to be aware of this.
How to address this issue as a manager?
Now for over the counter drugs the employer should have the opportunity to decide how he wants to run his business. As a manager it would be a matter of company policy and included in the employee handbook or code of conduct concerning drug use and what the requirements and expectations for employees are. This information would be shared with employees in advance prior to employment. Each employee can decide if they wish to abide by that policy. If there is no health risk, the drug would most likely be tolerated. Otherwise the employee would have to disclose the reason for the drug use and when it is being taken.
Edited by Toneemarie on 9/10/2010 at 4:36 AM EST