Benefits cut for failed drug tests
I’d like to start this week’s column by sending out a thank you to all of you who contacted me to share your views on the two recent conscience votes in Parliament. I had a lot of feedback from the South Waikato area, and I thoroughly appreciate you taking the time to contact me.
Another topic I have been getting a lot of feedback about through various channels recently, is the topic of welfare reform. Our Government is committed to improving our welfare system, and more specifically, to supporting people off benefits and into work.
This week we announced a new requirement for people receiving a benefit. From July next year, those on benefits who have either fulltime or part-time work obligations will be sanctioned if they refuse a job which requires a drug test or fail a drug test. I know that many of you would have expected this was already the case.
Work and Income will reimburse employers for test failures, and those who fail a test will have to pay back the cost out of their benefit.
Where people fail a drug test or refuse to apply for a drugtested job, they must agree to stop using drugs or their benefit will be cut by 50 per cent. They will be given 30 days to allow any drugs they have taken to leave their system.
If they fail a test or refuse a second time, they will have their benefit suspended until they agree that they will provide a “clean” drug test within 30 days. If they do not do this, their benefit will be cancelled.
Currently, unemployment beneficiaries can decline to apply for an available drugtested job without consequence, even though about 40 per cent of the jobs listed with Work and Income require drug tests.
National believes illegal drug use should not get in the way of getting a job.