Few beneficiaries failing drug tests

The Herald reports:

Few beneficiaries had benefits cut for taking drugs last year.

Beneficiaries with work obligations are now required to take and pass a drug test when asked to as part of a job application, with sanctions applied to their benefits for failing the tests.

Last year, there were 31,791 referrals for drug testable positions nationwide and just 55 sanctions for failing a drug test, according to Ministry of Social Development (MSD) figures.

Whangarei Citizens Advice Bureau co-ordinator Moea Armstrong said the low number of beneficiaries failing drug tests proved most people were “really desperately keen” for a job and not doing drugs.

That’s good.

He said workplace drug tests should be up to employers and he didn’t see why the Government needed to be involved in the process. Mr Reid said beneficiaries were under enough pressure without the threat of having their benefits cuts for failing drug tests.

It is up to employers. They decide if they ask a job seeker for one. What the Government has said though is if you are on a benefit and turn jobs down because you won’t take a drug test – well the taxpayer won’t keep funding you.

Bay of Plenty-based Te Tuinga Whanau support service executive director Tommy Wilson said he believed the drug testing policy was working.

“I know first hand that it’s working because we have a lot of people within our organisation that come from past drug use and are doing better because they have that put on them,” he said. “I am encouraged that people are being more responsible, realising how important work is and what it can do for the mana of a family to have a parent working.”

It would be good to have some before and after data – ie how many job seekers on a benefit refused drug tests before there were sanctions for doing so, compared to the failure rate now?

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