Paula Bennett has announced:
Beneficiaries with work expectations will face sanctions if they refuse to apply for drug-tested jobs, says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.
“Welfare reforms are resetting expectations and obligations and recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work.”
Under the current welfare system an unemployment beneficiary can decline to apply for an available drug-tested job, because they won’t pass the test, without consequence.
This seem reasonable and over-due. It is not random drug testing of all beneficiaries. It is merely saying you can’t refuse to apply for a job which requires drug testing.
“People will be given a warning and reasonable period of time to stop using drugs before having to take another drug test. But further failures will result in benefit reduction and possible cancellation,” says Mrs Bennett.
Where people fail a drug test or refuse to apply for a drug tested job, they must agree to stop using drugs or their benefit will be cut by 50 percent. They will be given 30 days to allow any drugs they have taken to leave their system.
Where 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.
People with addiction will be supported to get help with their dependency while those on some prescribed medications will be exempt.
Some will argue against this, but I ask what their alternate policy is? That someone can remain indefinitely on the benefit refusing to apply for jobs that they could do if they were drug free?