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Drug Testing Regulation Checks Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Updated : August 4th, 2020

Since the 1960s, the federal laws have banned states from drug testing jobless people that apply for benefits. But after the recent legislation, Republicans now want all states to institute tests for benefits.

Currently, $1.6 million has been spent on drug testing jobless people that apply for unemployment benefits. Also, over $2 million was spent in the last two years alone. This money could have been spent to expand welfare benefits or drug treatment programs.

Drug Testing Regulation Checks Unemployment Insurance Benefits

You should know that employers are not legally required to test you for drugs. This is either at the time when you apply for a job or when you are working at the company. There are restrictions when or why employers can test you or if your boss has a reasonable suspicion.

This could be if they had a reasonable suspicion if there was a workplace incident. Also, if there were reliable witnesses of drug use or if you have agreed to be tested.

Testing Based on States

State testing

If you fail a drug test then the state decides whether you qualify for unemployment benefits. You would have to forgo your employment benefits if you do not pass a simple state-sponsored drug test.

In the State of Pennsylvania, if you fail or refuse a drug test then you will lose your benefits. State laws require you to get another job before you reapply. Wages are a minimum of six times greater than the weekly benefits. Unlike other states, you can regain benefits after a legally mandated waiting period.

In 2012, Congress passed a bill that enables states to drug-test any fired unemployment applicant. Mississippi passed a law to cut off benefits to those that fail drug tests.

If you are a resident of Connecticut, then your employer can test you if the safety of the job is important. For instance, if you are a forklift operator and if there is a reasonable suspicion that you are using drugs then there would be a test, a follow-up test and then you would be terminated. But, if you have a case then you can file a case in court or file a complaint with the state labor department.

Recent Ruling at Congress

Congress Ruling

The Trump Administration has been working hard to bring back and broaden the rule that was struck down last year in Congress which required drug testing for unemployment benefits.

With the Congressional Review Act (CRA), Republicans had repealed the Obama rule that limited the ability of states to drug test people that applied for unemployment pay.

While the Republicans felt that the 2016 rule was narrow and not far-sighted because it did not allow states to drug test people whose occupations needed it. This category referred to those employees that worked as airplane pilots, flight crews and air traffic controllers for commercial and public transit drivers and especially those that required carrying a firearm on their person.

While the Labor Department signaled its plans to issue broader rules, it will have to redefine the type of occupations that require a drug test. This would mean that there are a set of jobs that would have to ensure that one of the conditions of the requisites of the job involves drug testing.

The Labor Department warned that there would be a regulatory agenda where a semiannual roadmap for an administration’s rulemaking plans. After the repeal of 2016, states no longer have the authority to drug test unemployment compensation applicants.

Earlier, they could get suitable work based availability in occupations that conduct regular drug tests for unlawful use of controlled substances.

Regarding the issue of notice of proposed rulemaking, the Labour Department said, “It will identify the occupations that regularly conduct drug testing.” There are several liberal advocates are not happy with the prospect of a new rule that provides the administration’s move which could set an important precedent.

Here this allows you to issue regulations that provide action that is repealed under the CRA. Explaining this, George Wentworth, Senior Counsel of the National Employment Law Project explained that the 2016 rule focused on jobs that conduct random drug screenings and not those that test as a condition of pre-employment.

Currently, there are 13 states across the United States that have instituted specific regimes. So far, these experiences have proven expensive to administer year after year.

Despite this, the number of positive test results is extremely low. In 2016, out of nearly 250,000 applicants, there were only 369 that tested positive in four states and similarly zero tested positive for illegal drug use.

States that had positive results ranged from a low of 0.07 percent of all applicants to a high of 2.14 percent and rates far below the nearly 10 percent drug use rate which would fall under the general population.

All in all only three states have come forward and implemented drug tests across their jurisdictions. These states include Texas, Mississippi, and Wisconsin that have passed laws that allow employers and the state to allow drug testing for their unemployment insurance programs.

Drug Testing Policy – What You Need to Know

Drug Testing Policy

What are Drug Testing Policies?

There are several policies that start out by expressing the positive terms that are needed for safety at the workplace and adherence to the job and work quality. This includes improving safety and productivity and explaining violations, employee coverage, disciplinary measures, and rehabilitation.

Based on drug and alcohol policies, you should allow employees to have a written copy of these policies. Employers usually make signing these policies as a condition to be hired.

As part of the overall policy manual, all employees should sign separate forms for search and testing policies.

What if you refuse to sign the policy?

You cannot be fired if you refuse to sign an acknowledgment of the policy. But this should not be done until and unless you are warned. This should be done in writing or witnessed by others that refuse to sign.

An alternative approach that is used is by holding a mandatory staff meeting and employees are forced to sign an attendance register or face a disciplinary action for absence.

Though they might distribute the new drug-testing policy, discuss and distribute the policy in front of witnesses. You can choose to refuse to sign on the acknowledgment form. The only issue is that your employer can use this to their advantage and ensure that you are aware of the policy.

How is discipline or rehabilitation conducted?

Most companies notify employees that testing positive for drugs or alcohol will result in immediate termination. Some companies allow a chance for rehabilitation and a return to work under probationary conditions. But this type of second chance is not required under Texas or federal law.

A worker is allowed to return to work after a positive test result. This is generally under a “last chance” agreement. This provides for monthly random tests, a year’s probation, and immediate termination for any subsequent positive test result.

How Are Searches Done?

While some companies have incorporated these searches in their policies and part of the drug testing policies, there are several provisions that you should review and you should understand the sample drug-testing policy. This is based on the type of search and how the test is administered.

What are the Pre-employment Drug Testing?

Pre-employment drug testing is done by a few employers for some applicants. This is not regarded by the ADA as a medical examination.

This can be done at any point of the selection process and due to cost issues. Companies would restrict testing to final candidates only. On the issue of who pays for the test, most companies assume the burden. But, there is no specific law in Texas or Federal Law.

A Pre-employment drug test would discourage minority applicants. These are works that effectively result in less than minimum wages for an employee’s first paycheck.

It would be best to let doubtful cases be reviewed by employment law counsel prior to such testing. These tests would have to be kept confidential and all medical records should be maintained under the ADA.

Applying For Unemployment Claims

If you are filing your unemployment claims then you should know how to apply in your respective state by selecting your state from the Benefits by State option. Once you select your state, you can determine how to connect with Unemployment Office.

You will then have to learn how to submit your claim and understand your eligibility and what you stand to gain with the Benefits Calculator.

You can also connect with the File Unemployment Community and get your questions answered in this forum. Make the most of your unemployment claims and connect with your Unemployment to help you find your next job!

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  1. So I have been getting ue for 6 months and on Oct 21 I had a fact finding issue found and cleared after taking a month, I got put on hold I got nothing no benefits nothing because I am on hold until cleared up and it was another month later in my favor, I’ve been without payment since Oct 21 since then I have been on HOLD, I am beyond pissed, I call every Fri I see the letter I received saying its in my favor that says I am Monetary Eligible-yet I still have 6 payments on hold. I call DEO and I talk, I beg and I get told “we are working on it”, the letter is in my favor I am poor not rich I am poor Why how do you people get away with this

  2. Hello

    I’m 59 years old and was laid off in March 2020 due to Covid.
    In June 2020 I was advised my job was eliminated and there is no chance of me
    Being brought back. I’m collecting UI since March.

    Pondering the thought of taking my early retirement pension as I can’t survive on
    UI any longer. My pension is of course reduced due to my age. Full pension is age 62.

    If I apply for early reduced pension in this situation, does my UI benefit get decreased? I’m in New York.
    I’m still looking for full time work. No luck.

    Thank you so much
    Lorraine

  3. i was just layed off from my job, i did collect benefits in pa. my job is seasonal igot unemployment payments in jan. to april i had 26 weeks of unemployment , but only used about 13 weeks, and was called back to work. i received 2 weeks of 600 dollars of stimlus money. my question is now that i reopened my 2020 claim . i,m i still elegibe for any more stimlus payments along with my regular unemployment payments.

  4. I am 65 yrs old in California and being layed off in Dec 2020. If I apply for unemployment benefits and collect a company pension, will the pension reduce the unemployment benefits ? If you answer call unemployment what is the department or do you have a phone number for a help line. I have called and get automated questions that do not apply to my situation.
    Cannot get to a live person.

  5. Several years ago I was part of a reduction in force and was early-retired for pension purposes. I count on this small pension ($2K/mo) to supplement my employment which has been inconsistent this past two years. I am filing for UI in IL and I qualify for it, but they are saying my pension reduces my UI benefit to zero. Is that right?

    1. Mike,

      That is partially right. The pension will have an impact on UI benefits. Please check for relevant info on the Unemployment Office’s website.

  6. I have $219.00 left on my UE and still no work due to covid-19 will i be able to get a extension on my UE and will it cover the last two weeks. I request payment tomorrow.

      1. My benefits have expired, still.unemployed due to over 65, wdiebrtes, high blood pressure and have one kidney, Can I get PUA , Cares Act for any assistance

  7. im working at a place i have been layed off from a lot in my career.i got 30 yrs in there so i can retire now but need another job to make it hoping to stay working and get more hours.If i take a new job and get layed off there I will BE DRAWING 1400 A MONTH FROM THE JOB I WORKED 30 YRS would i be able to draw unemployment if the new job lays me off and would it be reduced because of my retirement money of 1400 month.

  8. My bf was laid off in April he got the the 600 to start with now he is only getting the unemployment and no extra when we hear ppl getting 3 checks totaling 40k that might be lies but still that is bullshit.

  9. I Sharon Bland or Sharon Scott or Sharon Ann Mccraw
    Use my phone to claim two of my boyfriends and my own benefits. Is that ok ?

  10. I’m getting pua on employment and it was supposed to be backdated to May 27th when I wasn’t ableable to start my new job and somehow it’s August 24th they said it would be backdated been sending messages and pua people keep saying they have emailed you guys too but nobody gets back to me who do I need to contact about this thank you

  11. I check my checking account balance every week but I cannot tell if I am getting my 300.00 extra unemployment. Also. How can I tell if I got my back time unemployment .

    1. Thelma,

      I did not understand what you meant. Please reach out to the Unemployment Office for precise answers to all your questions.

  12. I have exhausted my UI and all extensions. Not eligible for Fed Ed. Does EDD open a PUA claim for me. Or do I have to aoole for it. Its been past 30 days since receiving my Fed Ed denial letter.

  13. i have been unemployed for the whole year almost and since i have been trying to distance myself to better my all around health, it took me this long to file for benefits, i was hoping to get back pay all the way to the beginning.

    1. Zach,

      To qualify, the claimant is required to have sufficient earnings/employment during the “Base Period”. Please use the “Benefits Calculator” available on this website for more.

  14. Thank you o much for investigating this. When I received an overpayment statement and my benefits where stopped I felt my heart drop to my stomach. Already being evicted by a slumlord and now no income, i had to start working when i feel very at risk for getting the virus because of pre-existing conditions and the reason for filing in the first place. i am a cosmetologist and considered non-essential. I feel utterley hopeless and helpless in this situation.

  15. I cannot contact anyone in the unemployment offices because the phone hangs up on me in all cases after listening over and over the recorded message. I have called three numbers .

    I have received pandemic unemployment since March 31st. There was a pending adjudication but I never received any questions, letters nor emails about it and I was approved and paid. Now…this is what the website says:
    7 of 7 entries
    Issue Identification Number Employer Name Issue Type Status Date Mailed Level
    0002 7693 59-01
    PUA Pending 11/16/2020 Adjudication
    0002 4773 71-01
    Program Integrity Mailed 11/6/2020 Adjudicati
    Claimant Inbox
    Select the Search button to display your action items. To narrow your search, input issue date range below and select the Search button.
    Issue Date: From: To: 11/6/2020 to 11/16/2020
    Inbox
    • Below are the items that require your attention and that you need to take action on for your claim.
    • Select the Document ID
    I need this money to survive as others do while I am trying to re-establish any contract freelance work I am capable of doing….I report my small jobs as I get them but they do not come close to equaling my unemployment as of yet. Please tell me where I can go to find out what is needed here.

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