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Title: “How Employers Can Utilize A Drug Test When Hiring”
Guest: Phil Sharkey – The Hire Authority
Interviewer: Jonathan Freedman – MAGE LLC

Click here to read the transcript

Jonathan (1s):
Welcome back to radio entrepreneurs. I’m Jonathan Freedman and our next guest is Phil Sharkey, president of The Hire Authority. Always a pleasure to see you, Phil.

Phil (9s):
Likewise, Jonathan, it’s a pleasure to be on the show and I look forward to our interviews. Nice to see you as well.

Jonathan (15s):
Always great to now fill it. You’re an expert in terms of helping companies to screen and, and, and test people, background checks, et cetera. But today we’re going to talk about drug screening, all important drug screening, not only in particular professions, but really for employers across the board. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you’re seeing out there? It

Phil (37s):
Is Jonathan. It’s a big issue in today’s world and we handled that for our clients. Usually there’s a separation of a sort of church and state with us. We usually don’t deal directly with the applicant. We’re the fact finders where the researcher, the, the client handles everything with, with the applicant for drug screening. It’s a little bit different. I’ve come right on board and I deal directly with the applicant. So we will schedule their drug screen. We will walk them through all the problems that could arise. And I can discuss with you the things that have happened regarding too much water in your system, not enough water, all the things that go involved in the testing. We generally send them to a quest diagnostics facility for a urine analysis, and they have three business days to get that done. We also use other testing sites, but most are within 10 miles of any residence.

Phil (1m 20s):
So that overcomes any of those problems. John, the one I want to talk about is like, obviously people know we do drug testing for drivers and people who have a dangerous drive, like, like tree cutters and everything, but I’m going to stat a site with some stats as to why I think it’s important for all staff to go through some form of drug screening. It’s not encroachment on their rights. We do nothing. We work with them on any issues regarding ADA disabilities. But when I read you some of these stats, I think you’ll realize why I think we should do drug screening before they begin employment. And I have some here for you right away. So we have the according to the national council on alcoholism, alcoholism and drug dependency, Jonathan, more than 70% of those abusing Alyssa, Alyssa drugs in the U S are employed.

Phil (2m 6s):
So again, I don’t mean to make light of this and a lot of what we do, it turns out to have some funny stories, but that’s a huge number and these people are working. And I know there’s a problem with drug issues in our country, but they are working. And I work for employers and I think employers need to know things before they come on board. And whether they’re working at an office desk or doing some function, that’s a huge number regarding a dependency problems in today’s society. We also have Jonathan, according to the national safety council, about 60% of employees live with a substance abuse disorder and estimated 80% of drug users supported their drug use by stealing from their place of employment.

Phil (2m 48s):
This study reported that the highest rate of prescription pain medication disorders is among workers in the service sector. So again, not to come down on these people with issues, but they’re working. The studies show that to support their drug habit, they will steal usually from their own employers.

Jonathan (3m 5s):
Great points, Phil, you know, you, you sort of juxtapose that with the challenges that employers are having in terms of finding people, you know, in particular, was service, you know, referred to as entry level service jobs, which are difficult to hire people. I have not passed the business in the last six weeks, probably that doesn’t have a sign out in the street hiring and you know, above minimum wage for, you know, basic menial positions. So tell us, tell, tell us what w how do you, how do you reconcile that? You know, I imagine there must be a fine line between, and, and we’ll get into it. I’m sure in a moment where you’ve got use of marijuana, for example, which is now legal in what 17 states fully legal in 17 states.

Jonathan (3m 52s):
So, right. And I can imagine that drug screening will determine whether somebody is used in the last day or three days or five days or whatever that timeframe is. So you’ve got a real challenge there, right? You posed

Phil (4m 4s):
Great question, Jonathan. I agree with you everywhere. I’ve gone in my circle of area, there’s a help wanted sign. You know what I saw the other day, there’s a 9.1 million unemployment or highest level, but there’s also 8.2 million job opportunities. Also the highest ever. So employers are desperate to get people in there. And there’s other discussion about how the unemployment benefits have gotten so good that people don’t really have the urge to work. It’s a problem. But when I see these numbers, I tell my clients that they can still keep going. And they’ll find people that are drug free. And again, you have to, the ADA is very specific that you must accommodate for people with illnesses and make an accommodation.

Phil (4m 45s):
But let’s talk about the marijuana. Like you said, no longer illegal in 17 states, including Massachusetts, but employers still have the right to say, well, I can’t have you on marijuana on this particular job. Even if it’s medical marijuana, and people always have a card and there’s reasons I have anxiety, I understand all this, but an employer has the right for a certain position. And really, almost all positions require someone clearheaded, just for example, that you can’t have someone who’s drunk on the job, the same. You can’t have someone who’s high on the job. The word that comes up is reasonable. Now, if there’s usage and this is what you do on your free time, that’s fine. But if it impacts your job, if you’re under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, we can’t have you in the office today.

Phil (5m 27s):
And that’s a problem. Then people have to understand that. And I do understand we have dependency issues in our country, but that is what we need for employers. We need them to not have

Jonathan (5m 37s):
People put some, some, some really specific examples that I’m sure you’ve run up against what happens in particular. And I’m sure given that marijuana has been legal in Massachusetts for, I think it’s close to two years, maybe a little bit longer, actually. I’m sure you’ve tested people who have come back positive and they claim, you know, I use in my free time in my spare time, I don’t use it while I’m employed. Is, is that, is that a red flag? Is that a white flag? Is that a green flag? What are we, what are we giving people in that instance that is a job dependent. Does that incur further questioning? You know, where does that put an employer?

2 (6m 15s):
And then I dropped the red flag. I understand. But first

Phil (6m 19s):
Of all, here’s the gun, the reasonable thought process of someone you’re going to be tested. Usually in the case, they share nothing with the employer. Everything’s fine, Jonathan, I’m ready to go. Give me my cup. I’m off comes back. They get tested for marijuana. So right away, you’re using the substance and you don’t disclose that to us. Okay. So now it comes up. So now I know that John, then you do have that explanation while it’s on my own free time. It won’t appear anything. We’ll adjust impaired your drug test that I just told you at three, sometimes four business days to prepare for. So yes, it did impair that. So now there’s that trust breakdown. How can I trust you to be clearheaded on Monday after the weekend? And again, it’s your right to use, to drink alcohol, to be on marijuana, whatever you want, but when you’re in my place of employment and I’m paying you as long as we stay within the ADA rights and understand that you may have glaucoma or some type of issue where you need to be on this substance, then we have to try and work something out where you’re still clearheaded for, for our job.

Phil (7m 16s):
Because my stats show that 81 billion was spent before the COVID shutdown by employers, on people with drug abuse problems in the workplace. And it added up to absenteeism healthcare costs and lost productivity. So as we talked earlier about truck trouble, trouble finding people 81, billion’s a big number. So you can’t find someone who doesn’t have the wherewithal to be clean on their drug screen because they’re on a substance. It’s just doesn’t work.

Jonathan (7m 47s):
Yeah, well, and, and I could certainly see how it’s going to be a, an evening larger challenges, more and more states move in that direction. Again, coupled with the lack of, of labor available, excuse me, in this country, I could see it really prevents or presents a challenge. So if I heard you correctly, one of the things is if somebody came in for employment, then you told them they were going to do the drug screening and they disclosed you prior to the screening that they were users of marijuana in their spare time, free time that would give them potential for a pass or depending on the job. I’m just trying to get a sense of where, where you draw the line or it’s a hard, no irrespective, because I think I know what the latest statistics are using Massachusetts, for example, but what percentage of adults are using marijuana?

Jonathan (8m 36s):
And I don’t know that number, but I think it’s high. It’s a great

Phil (8m 40s):
Question. And again, we’re not the judge and jury, it’s never, we never recommend or not recommend we’re the fact finders. So my job turns out to be very easy. It falls into a particular employer and in that interview and just like every interview by an employer, there’s a lot discussed back and forth. And when I tell you, if you’re for the job of me, Jonathan, and I’m the employer that I’m going to send you off to the higher authority for a drug screen, are you okay with that? They’re going to reach out to you. And that is your opportunity to go like, yes, I’m absolutely. Okay. Let me share something with you. You know, I have a medical marijuana card that’ll probably show up or, you know, on the weekends I like to have, my weekends is my time and do nothing illegal and then depends on the back and forth with the employer while I’m aware of that. Now, can you maybe stay clear?

Phil (9m 22s):
So this is sort of like your first work day and four days, you’re going to go for a drug screen. Let’s see how it goes. You know, there’s that dialogue that honestly, we’ve lost that in our country, a little bit dialogue and a back and forth understanding everything is guarded secretive and a lie. And the problem is again, when I see these numbers and just for people may wonder what is included in a drug screen. It’s a 10, 10, 10 panel drug screen, Johnathan, which includes, and pheta means that sort of like speed and uppers are bitchy, which when you’re talking sedative or downers benzo, <inaudible>, I’m going to destroy some of these names, cocaine, we know marijuana methadone, but the way lone opiates, penicillin, and pro toxaphene, I’m sure the destroyed some of those last few ones, but that’s what the general drug screen consists of.

Phil (10m 8s):
And many times it’s not just the marijuana that comes up there. There’s other issues of who said just by the stats alone for the dependency problems in the country. But I want to share with employers, I’m not picking on these people per se, but I think we need to know that before they walk in the door and start working, you need to know you have this problem.

Jonathan (10m 28s):
Absolutely. And I think to your point dialogue and a better understanding allows people to make hopefully informed decisions. And to your point, you know, you’re just, you’re just providing the information. They need to make their own decisions and what’s best in their environment. But going in with their eyes open, as they say

Phil (10m 48s):
Is knowledge, right? Information is knowledge. And if you have that knowledge, you can make the best decision possible in the hiring process.

Jonathan (10m 54s):
Absolutely as always great insight. Great advice, Phil, if people want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for them to reach out to you?

Phil (11m 1s):
Yeah. Jonathan phones and people actually answer, you don’t have to punch in letters or anything. You can have a human being at 5 0 8 2 3 0 5 9 0 1. Run the That’s H I R E a U T H. And my email is P

Jonathan (11m 18s):
I’m wonderful as always Phil Sharkey, president of the higher authority employment screening and helping employers make good decisions and finding out background information before they make that offer. Always great to have you on radio entrepreneurs. Great to get your insight as always, and thank you for your time. Thank you, Jonathan. Have a great day. Thank you, Phil.

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