Ben­e­fits cut for failed drug tests

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By LOUISE UPSTON

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.

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