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Increased Workers’ Comp Benefits for Drug-Free Workplaces in Arkansas

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The United States lacks a federally mandated, nationwide, workplace drug and testing policy. Because of this, laws widely vary state by state. A number of states, including Arkansas, offer workers’ compensation premium discounts for employers that comply with the state’s voluntary drug testing laws.

In Arkansas, employers are offered a 5% discount on workers’ compensation costs. However, an employer must meet strict conditions to receive this benefit. Drug and alcohol testing must comply with the standards and procedures outlined in Arkansas Code Ann. 11-14-101 and Arkansas Admin. Rules 099.36 (Rule 36). Additionally, employers must report annually to the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is an Arkansas workers’ compensation attorney with over twenty years of practice. If you have any questions regarding Arkansas’ drug-free workplace benefits or workers’ compensation in general, contact our law offices at (479) 316-0438.

The Purpose of a Drug-Free Workplace in Arkansas

The purpose behind Arkansas’ legislative measure is to afford employers the opportunity to maximize the productivity of their employees, enhance their positions in the marketplace, and obtain their desired level of economic success without the costs and tragedies associated with drug and alcohol-related accidents and distributions.

The rule is also meant to discourage drug and alcohol abuse by Arkansas employees, which often results in unemployment and prohibits workers’ compensation benefits. If you have any questions about the purpose of Rule 36, contact our Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys.

Written Notice Required for Drug-Free Workplace in Arkansas

If a business decides to create a drug-free workplace under Rule 36, it is required to provide its employees and job applicants a one-time written policy statement. While an employer has the right to modify this statement, it must include a number of specific elements.

First, the notice must identify that a condition of employment is that an employee must not report to work or engage in any work-related activity under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This part of the notice will list the types of drug and alcohol tests the employee or job applicant will be required to submit to and what disciplinary actions the employer is entitled to take based on a positive test result or if the employee refuses to submit to a test.

The notice must also have a statement informing the employee or job applicant of the existence of Rule 36, including what protections the employee has under this rule, including any applicable collective bargaining agreements, contractual protections, the right to appeal a decision in court.

The employer must also supply a representative list of employee substance abuse and rehabilitation programs.

An employee or job applicant must be furnished with a list of all classes of drugs that the employer could test for.

Finally, the employer must include a statement concerning the confidentially of any findings pursuant to testing under Rule 36.

If you think your employer failed to comply with Rule 36 or if you were not provided the information you should have been, talk with our Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys.

Employee Protections Under Rule 36 in Arkansas

A job applicant or worker has the right to contest or offer an explanation for a positive confirmed test. This response must be submitted to a medical review officer within five working days of receiving written notice of the results. If the medical review officer is unsatisfied with the employee’s challenge or explanation, the test result will be reported to the employer. If the employee is terminated over the test result, they have thirty days to file a written appeal with the Arkansas Department of Labor. If you believe your test results are inaccurate or otherwise misleading, contact our Bentonville workers’ compensation attorneys.

If a job applicant or employee is taking prescription or nonprescription medicines as part of treatment or for other health-related reasons, they must be given a reasonable opportunity to consult with a medical review officer. Furthermore, an employer must provide their employees and job applicants a means to confidentially report the use of these medications to a certified medical review officer after a test has been completed. It should be noted that this obligation only exists if the employee tested positive for drug or alcohol use.

An employer is not permitted to discipline, discharge, or discriminate against a new applicant based on a positive result that has not been verified or confirmed by a medical review officer. This includes requires or demanded that an employee or job applicant enter a rehabilitation program.

Furthermore, an employer is not allowed to terminate, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against an employee for requesting treatment for drug or alcohol-related problems if the employee has not previously tested positive for alcohol or drug use. This prohibition includes taking action against an employee who has entered a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program or employee assistance program. An employer may select the program or rehabilitation facility if the employer pays the expense of the program. However, Rule 36 does not require an employer to provide such a program.

If you believe your employer has violated any provisions of Rule 36, is it critical to speak with one of our Benton County workers’ compensation lawyers so you understand your rights and obligations.

Contact Our Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Regarding Rule 36

Arkansas has offered employers an incentive to create drug-free workplaces. Under Rule 36, employers receive a 5% discount on workers’ compensation insurance premiums while reducing turnover, delays, absences, and employee turnover due to drug and alcohol abuse. Nonetheless, employees still have rights and protections. If you have questions or believe you have been mistreated under Rule 36, contact our Arkansas workers’ compensation attorneys. Call our law offices at (479) 316-0438.

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