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More Drug Tests Issued For Unemployment Benefits

Addiction can truly be a vicious cycle, especially when you think of its impact on a person’s professional career. Obviously, substance abuse can easily lead to a firing. But then the pattern continues, as drug tests become mandatory for unemployment benefits and those struggling find it harder and harder to earn a living. This, of course, can lead to a more intensified habit and then the issue goes on and on and on. Now those scenarios may become much more commonplace, with new laws going into effect that require more testing for anyone looking to collect.

Starting November 4, a new rule passed by The Department of Labor will go into effect which enforces even harsher drug test stipulations for those seeking unemployment benefits. Interestingly, this will also impact people who have been laid off. As reported by several outlets, those who are shown to have marijuana, opioids or any other class of illegal substances in their system would be denied any payments.

Apparently, this movement actually stems from an amendment passed during Barack Obama’s presidential administration. It harkens back to the Job Creation Act of 2012, which restricted states’ abilities to impose benefits drug testing to those from high-risk fields, such as law enforcement. It also limited testing for people who had been previously fired. That has now changed, per Donald Trump’s administration, with a rationale being that companies would now be able to pay less unemployment insurance through their payroll tax.

Not surprisingly, several employee advocate groups have already spoken out and decried the new initiative.

“This final rule represents a not-so-subtle attack on the character of unemployed Americans,” Employment Law Project policy analyst Michele Evermore told multiple outlets. “Drug testing is simply a lazy way of blaming the victims of larger economic trends or corporate practices such as downsizing, outsourcing, and offshoring.”

The latest unemployment statistics also put the motives into question. The U.S. jobless rate is currently at a 49-year low of 3.6 percent, which makes it seem like not a lot of benefits are being handed out in the first place. Taking funding away from needy people (especially during the rising homelessness crisis) does not seem like a fiscal necessity.

Even employers have questioned the motives behind the movement, such as John Beebe (who was quoted on website and owns several auto companies).

“Testing someone that is attempting to collect on the benefits they rightfully deserve seems out of line,” he added. “We should be supporting and helping them return to the work force.”