Legislative Update 2016.06

 AAT Improve Workplace Safety by Simplifying and Improving Employer’s Substance Abuse Policy Requirements.

The next Work Session for this bill is scheduled for this Wednesday, March 9, 2016 @ 1:00 PM.  Mark your calendars and Click Here to listen in.

WGHR analysis:

This AAT modernizes State of Maine Statues on Substance Abuse Testing. Specifically:

  • Title 26 Labor and Industry
  • Chapter 7: Employment Practices
  • Subchapter 3-A: SUBSTANCE ABUSE TESTING HEADING:

The original Public Law is from 1989 and has been amended infrequently throughout the last 27 years. Over this period, other public law changes have antiquated some of the provisions within the spirit & intent of the statute.

Of particular note is Title 24 Insurance which includes a mandate for health insurance policies to include coverage for Substance Abuse Related Disorders.  Therefore, the need for the mandated employer funded Employee Assistance Program is obsolete. This in no way eliminates the best practice of having an EAP for the many other issues employees may have that could impact their safety and productivity.

The Maine Department of Labor convened a broadly diverse working group:

From May through September of 2015, the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards convened a diverse workgroup to gather information on issues relating to substance use and abuse in the workplace, legalization of medical marijuana, the potential statewide legalization of recreational use of marijuana, and other matters as they relate to the administration of the Maine Substance Abuse Testing Law (26 MRSA Subchapter 3-A).

The workgroup final report titled Substance Abuse, Marijuana, Medical Marijuana and the Maine Substance Abuse Law was released in February 2016.

 

The following is a summary of LD 1384

22  SUMMARY

 

23  This bill makes the following changes to the laws governing employment practices

 

24  concerning substance abuse testing.

 

25  1. It specifies that employers may establish policies or rules related to the possession

 

26  or use of substances of abuse by employees and for employee impairment by substances

 

27  of abuse at the workplace.

 

28  2. It repeals a section of law that addresses nuclear power plants since there are no

 

29  operating nuclear power plants in this State.

 

30  3. It authorizes an employer that has employees subject to a federally mandated

 

31  substance abuse testing program to extend its federal drug testing activities to its entire

 

32  workforce in order to maintain a single testing program and specifies that the employer

 

33  must maintain the privacy protections that Maine statute affords all other Maine

 

34  employees.

 

35  4. Current law prohibits a single work-related accident from forming the basis of

 

36  probable cause to believe that an employee may be under the influence of a substance of

 

37  abuse. This bill amends the law to provide that a single work-related accident that results

 

38  in injury or significant property damage may be probable cause to suspect an employee is

 

39  under the influence of a substance of abuse.

5. It eliminates the current requirement that, prior to establishing a substance abuse testing program, an employer with over 20 full-time employees have a functioning employee assistance program.

6. It directs the Commissioner of Labor to develop model policy templates with adequate flexibility so as to facilitate the ability of the employers’ substance abuse testing programs and policies to meet the requirements of the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 26, chapter 7, subchapter 3-A to develop new policies or update existing policies.

7. It expands the number of establishments that can undertake companywide random substance abuse testing from those with 50 or more employees to those with 10 or more employees.

8. The bill eliminates the requirement that employers share an employee’s rehabilitation costs not covered by group health insurance and clarifies that rehabilitation costs not covered by a group health insurance program are the responsibility of the employee.

9. It specifies that testing at the point of collection of saliva or urine is permissible for both applicants for employment and for employees.

 

The bottom line is that this bill Ought To Pass.

  • The workforce climate and culture of 2016 has changed substantially since 1989.
  • From a broader societal perspective, this may have the intended side effect of addressing the rampant opioid addiction affecting Maine and the United States of America.
  • Having a Model Policy template fairly levels the playing field for all employers and employees.

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