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WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today published a final rule that provides greater clarity and flexibility to states as they identify the occupations for which they will conduct drug testing in the unemployment insurance (UI) program.

“The flexibility offered in the new rule respects state differences with regard to employment drug testing across our country,” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “This rule lays out a standard that states can individually meet under the facts of their specific economies and practices.”

The rule recognizes states’ diverse situations by permitting (but not requiring) them to test unemployment compensation (UC) applicants for whom suitable work is only available in an occupation where drug testing is regularly conducted. In addition to specific occupations identified in the regulation, states can identify additional occupations where employers conduct drug testing as a standard eligibility requirement for obtaining or maintaining employment in the identified occupation in their state. While the final rule also maintains that any occupation listed in the rescinded 2016 final rule is among those that are drug tested “regularly,” it provides new flexibility to states to also identify such occupations.

The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 amended the Social Security Act to allow states to conduct drug testing for UC applicants for whom suitable work is only available in an occupation that regularly conducts drug testing. If a state chooses, it may deny UC to an applicant who tests positive for drug use under certain circumstances. Under the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, the Secretary of Labor is required to issue regulations determining those occupations that regularly conduct drug testing. This new rule fulfills the Department’s requirement to identify occupations that regularly conduct drug testing.

This rulemaking follows a 2017 resolution of disapproval, passed by Congress and signed by the President, which revoked a previous rule aimed at imposing a one-size-fits-all standard on states identifying occupations for regular drug testing.

The Employment and Training Administration administers federal government job training and worker dislocation programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits. These services are primarily provided through state and local workforce development systems.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.