Drug test for jobless benefits part of bill

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 8, 2011

By Karissa Minn
RALEIGH — A new state House bill would require applicants for unemployment insurance benefits to undergo periodic drug testing.
The bill, filed Wednesday by N.C. Rep. Harry Warren, requires an individual filing a claim for unemployment benefits to pass a drug test, provided the former employer agrees to pay for it.
“We want to make sure people are able and available to work,” Warren said. “I know lots of businesses require drug testing.”
If the former employer declines to pay for a test, the claim for benefits may continue. The employer can later request and pay for a test during an appeal.
If an applicant fails or refuses to submit to a test, the claim will be denied. A second test to challenge the results can be submitted at the applicant’s expense.
According to the bill, those who are awarded benefits would be required to submit to random drug tests during the time they receive payment.
Warren said the Employment Security Commission would decide how often to conduct the tests.
“If they fail a random drug test, the cost of that test would be deducted from the last unemployment check before they go on suspension,” Warren said. “The only cost to the state on this program would be the random drug tests we do that claimants would pass.”
Benefits would be suspended until the individual shows that the failed test was caused by the lawful use of prescription medication, participates in a drug or alcohol abuse treatment plan or tests negatively for drug abuse.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.