Alere, Synergy Health, LGC Group and BioClinics claim annual workplace drug testing has increased from 40% to a dramatic 470% in just four years.
Business leaders are becoming increasingly aware of workplace drug use and due to insurance purposes are adopting a drugs testing policy to ensure sensible conduct.
However, by law employees must give consent to being drug tested, but if they refuse they could face disciplinary action.
According to Lianne Gray – LGC Group’s strategic account manager for occupational drug testing – companies with employees in safety-critical roles such as driving and operating heavy machinery, are the most likely to carry out screening.
There are however an increasing number of “more normalised industries” including health companies and retail investing in a drugs-testing policy.
Ms Gray says this is to “safeguard not only the business, but also the reputation in the field they work in”.
Currently a large majority of companies are requesting screening for drugs like ketamine, steroids and psychoactive substances – also known as legal highs.
These drug tests are carried out at random, yet companies must cover the screening policy in contracts or the staff handbook.
Following the announcement of increased drugs testing, civil liberties groups have come forward to argue such screenings breach people’s privacy outside of work.
There is also the risk of being falsely tested positive for drugs, and Niamh Eastwood from the drugs advice charity, Release, said they often get calls from people who have.
She also highlighted that although drugs testing may indicate what substances are in the system, it fails to indicate if they actually affect a worker’s performance.