Majority support for widespread workplace drug testing

May 25, 2016, 4:35 PM GMT+0

Most Americans support widespread drug testing at work

One sign of the slow but steady improvement in the American economy is an unusual one: as unemployment falls, employers who test new candidates for drug use are finding it increasingly difficult to find 'clean' workers. Certain workers, such as truck drivers, are required to be screened for drug use according to the law but many employers make new hires take drug tests even if the law doesn't require it. America is unusual for the widespread use of drug testing, in most other developed countries it is illegal or very difficult for employers to subject employees to drug testing.

YouGov's latest research shows that most Americans (59%) say that employers should be able to test any employee for past drug use. 27% say that they should only be able to test workers whose drug use is relevant to the role, such as operators of heavy machinery, while 13% say that drug tests should only be allowed after an incident. Support for unlimited drug testing is widespread, with most Democrats (51%) and Republicans (77%) agreeing for once.

Marijuana is the most common reason for someone to fail a drug test. This is not only because marijuana is by far the most commonly used illegal drug in America, but also because detectable traces of marijuana remain in a person's body for weeks after use, while traces of drugs such as cocaine and heroin disappear in a matter of days.

Americans narrowly say that if they were a hiring manager deciding whether to hire an otherwise qualified candidate they would not hire (45%) someone who tested positive for marijuana while 35% say that they would. There is a notable age divide on this issue, however, as Americans aged 30 and over tend to say that they would not hire the marijuana user, while under-30s say that they would hire the person (48% to 31%).

Full poll results and margin of error can be found here.