As more and more countries get on board with legalizing cannabis, the topics of workplace safety and impairment need to be considered.
Depending on where you are, the legislation surrounding the legalization of cannabis may have a negative impact on your company, your employees, and your bottom line.
As the world starts to move into the next stage of existence – a world where cannabis is legal – here are 5 things employers can do to reduce and manage the possibility of cannabis impairment in the workplace.
Get Clear on the Law on Cannabis Impairment in the Workplace
The first thing employers need to do is get really clear on how the legalization of cannabis is being rolled out in their area. In Canada, for example, there is a lot of work being done surrounding the legalization of cannabis that is happening this summer.
Workplaces are scrambling to find out as much as they can to ensure the safety of themselves and their employees once this bill becomes law.
And it’s not because employers think employees are going to show up to work high, it’s so that everyone stays safe no matter what. So before you do another thing, find out what the laws are, or what they are going to be in your area related to workplace possession and use.
Update A & D Policies
Once employers know what to expect in their area, it’s important to take a long, hard look at the policies and procedures that are in place at your current workplace.
It’s important to ensure that any alcohol and drug policies (A & D) are updated to reflect new changes as they happen within your respective governments.
For example, you will need to have information such as definitions of prescription and nonprescription use related to cannabis. In some places, just because an employee has a prescription for medical cannabis does not mean he or she can come to work impaired.
Employers need to have safeguards in place, and in writing, to dictate what is and is not acceptable at work related to cannabis.
Tell Every Employee
It will be vital that all employees are aware of the legislation in your area, the updates you make to the A & D policies in your workplace, and that they sign documents agreeing to the changes.
Ensuring a broad communication of these changes protect the company, as well as the people who work for you. Providing a safe work environment is required by almost all countries in the world, and the conversation around cannabis possession and use at work are going to fall under that category of responsibility.
Employees and employers need to work together and accept mutual responsibility, of ensuring a safe workplace for all.
Have a Testing Policy
Another thing employers will need to do is introduce a cannabis testing policy or reasonable suspicion policy. This might hinge on the kind of work you do.
For example, it’s probably not necessary to test employees for cannabis use if they sit behind a desk all day, but if they sit behind a desk all day and operate equipment remotely, it will be.
Ensuring safety is the top priority as governments roll out the new laws surrounding cannabis use. But it’s not just cannabis – it’s important to update your A & D policies to reflect any alcohol regulations or changes that might have occurred.
Doing it all at once saves you a lot of time and frustration should the issue arise in the future.
Many companies offer an employee assistance program as a way to support their employees who suffer from drug or alcohol addictions, as well as a number of other things that might impact their ability to come to work ready to focus and deliver.
One thing that employers can do is ensure that their employee assistance program is up to date and ensure that there are supports in place, as well as a complete understanding of a duty to accommodate addiction to the point of undue hardship if required.
Get clear on what that means for your organization and what your legal obligations are to support employees who present to work with prescriptions for cannabis, or a dependency on alcohol or other drugs.
The theme here is education. The more people know about cannabis in the workplace, the better off everyone is going to be.
The more employees know about the rights and responsibilities, the safer everyone will be.
The more companies step up to the plate to offer employees assistance and support during tough times, the easier it will be to achieve and maintain a healthy workforce.
So don’t waste time waiting for someone to tell you what you need to do in order to provide a safe and effective work environment in light of the pending legalization of cannabis in many areas, take the initiative and start putting together a plan of action that will protect not only your employees, but your company and yourself as well.