Department of Labor Issues New Rule for Unemployment Insurance Drug Testing

The U.S. Department of Labor published a final rule that allows states to identify the occupations for which they will conduct drug testing in the unemployment insurance (UI) program.

The rule permits states to test unemployment compensation (UC) applicants for whom suitable work is only available in an occupation where drug testing is regularly conducted. In addition to specific occupations identified in the regulation, states can identify additional occupations where employers conduct drug testing as a standard eligibility requirement for obtaining or maintaining employment in the identified occupation in their state. While the final rule also maintains that any occupation listed in the rescinded 2016 final rule is among those that are drug tested “regularly,” it provides new flexibility to states to also identify such occupations.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 amended the Social Security Act to allow states to conduct drug testing for UC applicants for whom suitable work is only available in an occupation that regularly conducts drug testing. If a state chooses, it may deny UC to an applicant who tests positive for drug use under certain circumstances. Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the Secretary of Labor is required to issue regulations determining those occupations that regularly conduct drug testing. This new rule fulfills the Department’s requirement to identify occupations that regularly conduct drug testing.

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