Creating a Workplace Substance Policy for Recreational Cannabis at Work
On October 17, 2018, private recreational cannabis use became legal in Canada. Specifically, Canada is the latest jurisdiction to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. This marks a significant policy shift that impacts social attitudes, community standards and workplace practices. The decriminalization of cannabis is of particular interest to Canadian employers. More specifically, how will the legalization of private recreational cannabis use affect Canadian workplaces? The simple answer is that, like it or not, cannabis will find its way into the workplace. Therefore, it is critical that employers have clear drug and alcohol policies in place to screen for employee impairment. And in doing so, it’s imperative to also ensure that medicinal cannabis users are properly accommodated. In this vein, it is important to note that the legalization of recreational cannabis use does not give employees a right to be impaired at work.
Proper Workplace Policies
Effective drug and alcohol policies and procedures set out clear and unambiguous rules and expectations regarding workplace impairment, disability accommodation and workplace safety. An effective and enforceable workplace drug and alcohol policy will clearly:
- Communicate employer expectations regarding workplace conduct and workplace health and safety;
- Communicate worker duties and responsibilities;
- Explain what constitutes prohibited workplace behaviour, such as being impaired while working;
- Set the employer’s policy regarding disability accommodation, including how the employer will accommodate medicinal cannabis in the workplace; and
- Explain the consequences of worker misconduct, such as a progressive discipline policy.
Above all, remember that as an employer, your obligation is to provide a healthy and safe workplace to all workers. Every industry and organization has different standards and practices. This means there are no ‘standard’ set of policies to review and revisit. Ask our health and safety consultants for advice when it comes to ensuring your employee policy is right. And that it covers you, as the employer, appropriately.