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Drug Testing Regulation Checks Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Updated : June 11th, 2019

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. I work for a church pre school program and I have lost my job due to coronavirus. When I applied for unemployment in Texas it says that two does not except this employer as my last employer. I’ve been working there for 13 years. What do I do?

  2. Chad ….. how do I get thru when it wont accept my ID or my password. I change it 5 times and it still wont work. Calling is not working at any time when I spend and whole day calling back to back to get thru. why don’t they just help or force the employers ( company) to place they claims in for their workers like GM did……I NEED HELP…PLEASE.

    1. Chad,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  3. i live in ga…all the day cares have shut down my wife and i have full time jobs,,,but i have to leave my company which i have been there for over two years,to take care of our child….can i still collect unemployment…this covid virus is why i have to leave my job…

    1. Gary,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

  4. are you kidding me my son lost his job on 10/17/2020 hes mentally challenged and cant file on his own because he doesn’t know how so I started going to sites trying to file for him and the residence inn Marriott promised to help him and have done zip . ive tried 10 different sites and I keep getting dropped wen I complete forms and push submit. 12 days now n still cant file a claim.

    1. Martin,

      There’s only one website you should be trying from. Please let us know your state and we’ll share the website information.

  5. I have submitted my forms EXACTLY as I was instructed too on line. Even though I have filled out the paperwork correctly I keep getting emails asking for me to fill out the form that I have done multiple times already. Remuneration – Claimant Questionnaire is the issue. I got online and requested a phone call. 3 days ago. I just need to know that you guys received everything and I don’t owe any more information.
    Nobody answers the 617-626-6800 number. Just get directed to the internet. Well, you can’t speak with the internet. I am getting mixed messages and I fret that this will delay any benefits.
    Could someone please give me a call.

    1. James,

      Please try finding answers online since there might be limited phone support due to the shortage of staffing. This is a private forum and we’ll not be able to arrange a callback.

  6. I work for a church that has grown it’s congregation over almost 40 years and we now have 26 mostly full time employees, most being here many years. Will our employees be able to file and receive benefits since we are an EXEMPT from paying unemployment industry? State of Florida

  7. My unemployment benefits ran out 3/1/2020 am I able to file for extended benefits ? I live in California and am 62 years old.

    1. Ariana,

      We understand this might be a difficult time for you. We’re anticipating a shortage of staff across unemployment offices due to the massive surge in UI applications considering the pandemic. We advise against calling or visiting the office, as you may not get a response instantly.

      Your state may have activated “Extended Benefits (EB)” authorized by the federal government. We recommend you apply for UI benefits online. For more information, please visit your state’s official Unemployment website.

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