Recovery through employment legislation passes first legislative hurdle

IMG_9995Empowering businesses to play a greater role in Kentucky’s substance use disorder crisis is the goal for a measure that passed the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 173, sponsored by Senator Matt Castlen, would require the state to develop educational resources to support businesses that voluntarily implement employer-facilitated substance use disorder treatment programs for employees or prospective employees who fail drug screenings.

“The opioid crisis in Kentucky has gone beyond just a health crisis, it’s also a workforce crisis,” said Kentucky Chamber Vice President of Public Affairs Kate Shanks, who presented on the bill in committee. “As Kentucky employers struggle to find and retain employees, second-chance hiring is a way to help businesses and help those in recovery.”

The bill language is permissive in that it only impacts those employers who volunteer participation in the program. SB 173 encourages the retention of employees struggling with a substance use disorder by relieving fully compliant employers of liabilities associated with negligent hiring, retention, or supervision.

Senate Bill 173 received some criticism from opponents expressing concern with the liability provisions for employers, although most all who raised concerns said they supported the bill’s intent.

The bill now moves on to the full Senate for consideration.

Stay tuned for more efforts by the Kentucky business community to address the opioid epidemic on The Bottom Line.

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