Nevada businesses will have to adapt as two new employment laws that went into effect this year, one regarding marijuana drug screening and the other a higher minimum wage.
Under AB 132, Nevada is now one of the first states in the nation to ban most employers from using marijuana drug screening as a hiring procedure.
The measure, which stops employers from denying a job to applicants who test positive for marijuana in a pre-employment drug test, includes several exemptions to give employers appropriate discretion over safety-sensitive positions like firefighters and ambulance drivers, Randi Thompson, Nevada state director for the National Federation for Independent Business (NFIB), told the Center Square.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada since 2017 and the state is seeing record tax revenues from the industry.
Thompson noted that as a growing percentage of the workforce has tested positive for pot in random drug tests, new rules may be necessary.
“We are really behind the eight ball when it comes to testing,” Thompson said. “There’s an understanding that we need to update the testing, that’s really what it comes down to.”
Nevada’s new minimum wage law also presents small businesses with tough choices, Thompson said. A Reno candy manufacturer with 30 employees, for example, will have roughly $86,000 more in payroll expenses when the increase from $7.25 to $8 an hour takes effect in July. Under the current provisions of the bill, known as the Nevada Minimum Wage Increase Initiative, a series of hikes will bring the wage to $12 an hour by 2024.
The mandate will likely mean small businesses will have to cut back on hiring, Thompson said, adding that recent news reports out of San Francisco and Seattle have concerned hundreds of restaurants closing, due in part to higher minimum wage.
“The sad part is the very people that legislators are trying to help are the very people who get hurt,” Thompson said. “Because businesses are not going to hire younger workers and give them that first job, they’re going to hire someone with more experience.”