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Managing Impairment in the Workplace

Posted by Megan Duffy

Oct 4th, 2018

Managing Impairment in the Workplace

There’s no doubt that Cannabis has been this year’s hot topic. With October 17th fast approaching, the nation seems to be “calm before the storm” – patiently waiting to see how everything will truly unfold. Whether you’ve been prepared for months, or you’ve decided to put your response on the back burner, I’d like to provide a summary of key items to be aware of.

To be clear, October 17 is only adding the legalization of recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001. This means that there is no change for individuals who have been prescribed medical cannabis by a licensed medical practitioner.

Medical notes do not need to include what they are specifically being prescribed, only the impacts that it’s consumption will have on an employee’s fit for duty. This may include how the employee will be physically and/or cognitively effected, how often they will be required to consume the substance, the duration of the substance’s effects, as well as details surrounding what they are able to do.

When it comes to recreational cannabis, employers are advised to treat any type of impairment caused by its consumption the same as they would if it were alcohol or other substances.

Employer Duties:

• Take every precaution reasonable to protect workers;

• Assess hazards in the workplace;

• Ensure employees are fit for duty;

• Prepare and annually review a Health and Safety Policy and Program;

• Provide employees with clear information and instruction to protect their health and safety.

Selectpath HR’s Hot Tip

Create a well-rounded Fit for Duty Policy. This policy allows employers the opportunity to depersonalize instances that may cause concern for violating human rights. This way, employers can focus on an employee’s fit to perform their jobs safely and as they are expected to. This policy should include a clear description of what being ‘fit for duty’ means, and examples of signs of someone who may not be considered fit for duty. It is recommended that onus is placed on the employee to self-report if they may be unfit for duty in any way. Moreover, this policy should draw a path to accommodation if a situation requires such action. All employees should be trained on this policy and provide a signature recognizing that they have read, understand, accept and will abide by the policy. Please note that employers are more likely to be liable if an incident occurs and there is not a signature or proof of training.

What’s the bottom line?

Be prepared. Be transparent. Have Selectpath HR help you to create a well-rounded Fit for Duty Policy and ensure it’s aligned with both your Substance Abuse and Health and Safety Policy. Communicate with your employees how the changes in legislation will alter the way your organization operates (for most cases, how essentially nothing will change).

For ongoing support through the legalization of recreational cannabis, add Selectpath HR to your team through the purchase of our HR Connection service – allowing your organization to connect with one of our experienced advisors when you need for $1,000.


Managing Impairment in the Workplace

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