Drug testing for beneficiaries with work obligations

Around 40% of jobs listed with Work and Income require applicants to pass a pre-employment drug test.


If an employer or training provider asks for a pre-employment drug test as part of the application process for a suitable job, beneficiaries with work obligations will be required to take and pass that test.

  • The drug testing process

    Drug tests will be completed under a national drug testing standard. There are two types of tests, both usually needing a urine sample:

    • a screening test which shows if drugs are present
    • an evidential test completed by an accredited laboratory which shows the type of drug and the amount present.

    Most employers will only do the first screening test as this generally provides them with enough information to make a decision on whether to employ an applicant or not.

  • Supporting people to get help

    Together with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development is establishing an '0800 Helpline' for Work and Income beneficiaries who indicate that they would like support to resolve their drug issues.

    The service has been set up for beneficiaries who require support as a result of the new pre-employment drug testing obligations. The service also provides support for people with alcohol problems, however the pre-employment drug testing obligation does not include testing for the presence of alcohol.

    The Helpline service will provide:

    • screening for alcohol and drug use issues
    • brief interventions to minimise harm or motivate change
    • referral to alcohol and other drug treatment services for a comprehensive assessment (where this is indicated).
  • Addiction and dependency

    The policy is not aimed at people with addictions or dependency. Comprehensive assessment for drug dependency will be carried out by parties suitably qualified for this work.

  • Input from health professionals

    When a work obligated client advises Work and Income that they may fail, or have failed, a pre-employment drug test and they have a good and sufficient reason for this, the client will be asked to provide Work and Income with a completed Drug Test Obligations - Verification Form.

    This form is to be filled in by a health professional such as a health practitioner, alcohol and other drug counsellor or a treatment provider, and will help the client provide the information required to help determine:

    • whether they have a good and sufficient reason for not being able to pass a pre-employment drug test
    • the duration their good and sufficient reason is expected to continue for, and
    • if they should be deferred from their drug test obligations for a period of time.