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

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Nobody wants to be injured — especially not when they depend on maintaining an income to support themselves or their family.  Unfortunately, mistakes do happen, and employees in every industry periodically fall victim to accidents in the workplace.  When they do, Arkansas workers’ compensation steps in to help cover lost wages.  But what many Arkansans don’t realize is that workplaces which comply with the Voluntary Drug-Free Workplace Program can receive extra benefits.

The Voluntary Drug-Free Workplace Program

Today, many workplaces impose periodic drug tests on their employees.  The American Management Association reports that almost all Fortune 500 companies conduct drug testing, and in Arkansas, recreational use is especially high.  The Arkansas Drug Control Update issued by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) reports that from 2007 to 2008, Arkansas was in the nation’s top 10 states for various substances, including marijuana and methamphetamine.

To help combat this widespread issue, the state of Arkansas offers a financial incentive to employers and their employees through the Voluntary Drug-Free Workplace Program.  To quote Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission (AWCC) Rule 099.36, the purpose of the program is that:

…Employers in this state may be afforded the opportunity to maximize their levels of productivity, enhance their competitive positions in the marketplace and reach their desired levels of success without experiencing the costs, delays and tragedies associated with work-related accidents resulting from drug or alcohol abuse by employees.

In a nutshell, this program grants qualifying workplaces the opportunity to receive an extra 5% credit on their workers’ comp insurance.  The best part?  All you have to do is remain drug-free.

How to Qualify for the Program

In very simple terms, an a workplace can qualify for enrollment in this program if that workplace is collectively able to remain drug-free.  Of course, it’s slightly more complex than that; so what are the specific criteria?

Rule 099.36, Section I (Purpose and Scope), Part E states: “Employers who adopt a drug-free workplace program as prescribed herein, and are annually accepted by the Division as having such a program, shall qualify for a workers’ compensation premium credit as described in Section XV of this rule.”  It is then important to note under Section XV, “This premium credit shall not be available to employers who do not maintain their drug-free workplace program for the entire workers’ compensation insurance policy period.”

Under Section VII (Testing Procedures and Laboratory Requirements), substances which may be tested for include:

  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines
  • PCP
  • Cocaine
  • Opiates
  • Alcohol

Notice that alcohol is one of the substances included on the list, in addition to the narcotics.  Under Section VIII (Cost of Testing), employers — not employees — are responsible for covering the costs of such testing.

It’s also very important to note the extensive penalties for test fraud.  If an employee tampers with the results of their testing (for example, by trying to swap or dilute a urine sample), he or she may be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor.  This a criminal offense punishable by:

  • Up to 90 days in jail.
  • A fine of up to $500.

The party committing fraud may receive just the jail time, just the fine — or both.

You can read the full text of Rule 099.36 here.

If you or someone you love was injured at work in Arkansas, you may be able to qualify for workers’ compensation.  An experienced personal injury lawyer can help guide you through the process.  To schedule your free, confidential case evaluation, call the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak today at (479) 251-7767, or contact us online.

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