Job seekers in the Bay of Plenty are failing pre-employment drug tests, with one recruitment agency saying up to 30 per cent of its clients fail.
At the same time Drug Detection Agency figures showed 4.8 per cent of all pre-employment drug tests in the Bay of Plenty were positive in 2014 - a 0.3 per cent increase on 2013.
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1st Call Recruitment managing director Phil van Syp said most of those tested positive to cannabis in a urine test.
"It's quite high. About 20 to 30 per cent fail depending on the sort of roles.
It's really frustrating when you have a good role and a great candidate and they fail their drug test.
"We do a lot of roading and people seem to think that it is okay. The last thing I want is an accident if someone is off their face. None of the staff that work for me are allowed to be under any influence ... We also have post-accident testing done and if they refuse they are instantly dismissed."
The company tested about 30 to 40 people a week and about six to eight would fail.
Encore NZ director Teisha Pihama said her agency recruited for staff in civil, engineering and transport.
Less than 10 per cent failed its urine drug test that could pick up six substances - from cannabis to opiates and methamphetamine.
The company's Tauranga branch would test about 80 people a month, she said. Clients were not forced into it "but it is our policy".
" ... We sustain a drug-free business and do random testing among our own staff as well."
The company's pass rate was higher than others because many of its clients tended to be in current employment and looking for a change.
ACC levies could be reduced if a company had an audited drug testing policy in place, she said.
Drake branch team leader Halee Reid said failed drug tests were an ongoing issue for the agency, with instances occurring weekly.
"It's really frustrating when you have a good role and a great candidate and they fail their drug test."
She estimated 30 to 40 people would have failed drug tests this year of about 200 total tests.
All industrial roles advertised at the firm needed drug tests for health and safety. "People just need to realise if they are job seeking or are already placed in jobs, they can't take drugs. It just doesn't work. They are only hindering their own careers."
Kirk Hardy, CEO of the Drug Detection Agency, which has a branch at Mount Maunganui, said businesses were wanting to implement drug and alcohol policies due to high-profile accidents and tragedies involving implications of someone using illicit or prescribed drugs.
You have to consult and you have to explain to your team this is why we are doing it, it's a safety function.
However, he said "you can't railroad these things".
"You have to consult and you have to explain to your team this is why we are doing it, it's a safety function.
"When you factor in the obligation under the new legislation for employers to ensure they take care to ensure their acts or omissions don't harm others, and the potential for them to be prosecuted for failing to do so, you see that the law has (or will have) some real teeth in this area.
"One trend we are seeing is an increase in our hair testing services. This has been based around increased demand from professional type services such as accountants and lawyers ... It gives the employer approximately three months history of any past drug usage."
A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment spokeswoman said no legislation expressly allowed or prohibited drug or alcohol testing in an employment context. However, drug testing potentially helped provide and maintain a safe working environment, she said.