Whew. What a year it has been! 2020 has brought an abundance of challenges and changes. As the year (finally?) comes to a close, a slew of changes will come following the general election on November 3rd. In addition to the major national voting objectives such as the next President of the United States, House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, state, and local representation; voters also decided on marijuana legalization measures.   

Positivity rates for employment drug testing reached a 16-year high in 2019, according to recent data collected and reported by Quest Diagnostics[1]. The overall positivity rate in the combined U.S.

As businesses reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, contact tracing to track viral exposure in the workplace will become a critical part of helping to slow the spread of the virus and protect workers. So what do employers need to know before implementing contact tracing?

On May 21, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation that decriminalizes marijuana possession, joining a majority of states that have ceased treating the drug as a criminal offense. Here’s what employers in Virginia need to know about these changes once they go into effect on July 1.

As employers across the nation begin the process of reactivating their workforce, they must develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures that follow Federal, State, and local regulations, guidance, and industry best practices.  As an employer in our country, you must provide a safe and effective workplace for your employees. Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Occupational Safety and Health Act dates back to 1970.

As it stands today, 33 states and Washington D.C. have authorized the medical use of marijuana. Eleven of those states and Washington, D.C also allow the personal ‘adult-use’ of marijuana.  With 2020 being a presidential election year, efforts to include marijuana on this years’ ballot are rampant! While most of the past marijuana laws where approved by a majority vote of the people, a trend that we expect to see more are legalization efforts through state Legislature actions. 

With legal marijuana use laws continuing to make traction throughout the U.S., and the perception of a dwindling job applicant pool, some employers are asking if they should continue to conduct screening for marijuana. Some employers are also challenging the entire idea of performing drug testing in their workplaces.  Is there still a benefit to having a drug-free workplace program?

In short, the answer is, “YES!”  Why? Because the risks of not testing are real. There is no mystery why this is so, look at the latest statistics:

Ringing in a new year brings new requirements for employers managing their workplace drug and alcohol screening programs. From state-specific laws to changes at the federal level, it is critical to understand these changes and make the appropriate internal adjustments to ensure your compliance.

State Laws

Several states, and one city, have new laws that employers must comply with here in the new year. Below is a summary of the significant changes:

Illinois

As we begin a new decade in 2020, here’s a look back at the most popular posts from the previous year. 2019 was a year with a heightened focus on compliance for employers as I-9 and E-Verify updates are enacted combined with no shortage of state marijuana legislation limiting how employers can drug test their workforce. The nursing talent shortage, healthcare compliance and recruitment conference takeaways, workforce diversity, and employment drug testing are all topics that were most popular among our readers in the past year.

Understanding the Role of Reasonable Suspicion Testing

Reasonable suspicion drug testing has long been a common practice and useful tool for enforcing drug-free workplaces. It’s a fair and reliable testing method that can both dissuade and detect drug and alcohol use. It’s also an issue of Individual privacy versus an employer’s responsibility for maintaining a safe workplace. With the trend of new laws (marijuana, etc.) impacting when or under what circumstances employers can conduct a drug test, the role of reasonable suspicion has never been more critical than ever before.

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