Drug Testing for Unemployment Benefits

After four years of White House delay in implementing a 2012 law allowing states to drug test applicants for federal unemployment payments, today House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas  introduced H.R. 5945, theReady to Work Act of 2016. The bill fully implements the bi-partisan 2012 law which overturned a 1960’s era Department of Labor ban against states drug testing unemployment applicants.

The legislation ensures that states would be allowed, but not required, to test unemployment applicants who lost their jobs due to drug use or are seeking a new job that generally requires new employees to pass a drug test. States would also be allowed to design programs to help unemployed applicants overcome their drug use issues to be ready for work. A survey by the Society for Human Resource Management estimates that more than half of all businesses drug test all their employees.

The White House reneged on their responsibility to implement the law as Congress intended, throwing up roadblocks, delays and obstructive regulations for the past four years to guarantee states like Texas could not screen and test for drugs. This is a common-sense measure to ensure unemployed workers are ready and available to work.  If you are unable or unwilling to pass a basic drug test for a job that requires one, then you suffer, your family suffers and so do the businesses looking for good workers.

Background: In 2012, Congress passed and President Obama signed the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which included an important policy allowing (but not requiring) states to test UI applicants who either (1) lost their job due to drug use, or (2) are seeking a new job that generally requires new employees to pass a drug test.

In August of this year, over four years after the drug testing provision was enacted, DOL issued its final rule, which fell significantly short of achieving the intended purpose of the law, effectively preventing states from implementing this important policy.

The Ready to Work Act of 2016 provides relief from the final DOL rule so that states—not the federal government—can determine how to administer UI benefits and help unemployed Americans return to work.

The following members of the Committee on Ways and Means joined Chairman Brady in introducing the “Ready to Work Act of 2016”: U.S. Reps. Sam Johnson (TX-03), Peter Roskam (IL-06), Charles Boustany (LA-03), Tom Price (GA-06), Tom Reed (NY-23), Mike Kelly (PA-03), George Holding (NC-13), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Jason Smith (MO-08), and Congressman Tom Rice (SC-07).

CLICK HERE for Full Text of H.R. 5945.


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