Employers in L.A. pay most for insuranceLooking...

Employers in L.A. pay most for insurance

Looking back over her state career this week, she said the


more she worked on developing corporate drug testing, education and rehabilitation policies, the more she became convinced that employers can lead the fight against drugs.

First, they have the motivation: Banning drug-impaired people from the workplace can reduce accidents and worker compensation claims, she said.


Second, they have the opportunity: "People's jobs are so important to them. A profession is so central to the way we define ourselves that employers have an opportunity to shape policies and attitudes," she said.

The governor's partnership program is aimed at the state's 90,000 small businesses because they are especially vulnerable to employee drug problems.

Most large employers in Maryland use testing or have other programs to discourage workers from using drugs. That forces drug users to look for jobs among small companies that don't test, she said.

"I call it the trickle-over effect," she said.

That's why the state has drafted a model anti-drug policy and testing program, and sends volunteer lawyers and counselors to employers who request them.

Despite that assistance, about two-thirds of the employers who asked for state guidance during her tenure didn't start drug testing programs within the first year, she said.

Some of that reluctance is due to ambivalence about drugs, she said.

Some workplaces "actually promote drug and alcohol abuse," she said. "People get together on the weekends to drink or get high."


And other employers are concerned about privacy and employees' reactions.

Although most drug testing is legal in Maryland, many employers recognize that making longtime workers submit to drug tests "can be very uncomfortable and very demeaning," she said.

Employers wanting drug testing should give plenty of notice and include the workers in the design of the program, she said.

But, she warned, "just implementing a drug-testing program is not the way to go" to prevent workplace drug abuse. "Drug testing alone will just drive drug use underground, and create a demoralized work force."

Testing has to be allied with training for managers, education for workers, and confidentiality and assistance for those who have problems, she said.

January targeted as peak hiring month


January will be the peak corporate hiring month, says the headhunting firm of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Large companies hire 15 percent more employees in January than they do in any other month, the New York-based firm says.

One hint: In this economy, job seekers under 30 should accept any realistic offer, counsels James Challenger, president of the company.