Maine Legislature to Consider Employer Drug Policies

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Over the next few months, the Maine Legislature will be considering substance abuse policy regulation. Senator Andre Cushing has introduced a bill, LD 1669, An Act To Standardize and Simplify the Process for Employers To Provide a Drug-free Workplace that would change the way the state regulates workplace polices on this issue.

Current law requires employers that want to provide a drug-free workplace by testing applicants or employees for substance abuse to develop and file a policy with the Department of Labor. The Bureau of Labor Standards reviews the policies to ensure compliance with state laws and rules.

This bill provides employers with a single, consistent model policy. The model policy, which must be established by the Commissioner of Labor and managed by the department, is intended to encourage greater participation by employers to reduce substance abuse in the workplace. The bill requires an employer to adopt the model policy before establishing a substance abuse testing program.

It removes the requirements that employers provide an employee assistance program and pay for half of rehabilitation beyond services provided through health care benefits. Employers may offer an employee assistance program if they choose. The bill also amends the definition of "probable cause" to provide that a single work-related accident is probable cause to suspect an employee is under the influence of a substance of abuse. The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor to work together to adopt rules to establish the model policy by July 1, 2015.

LD 1669 will be considered at a public hearing before the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee scheduled for January 28th at 2 pm.