In the wake of cannabis legalization in Canada, a new report by The Conference Board of Canada lists the top areas of concern for employers related to use of the substance, which include workplace safety, impairment at work, employee mental health, an increase in accidents or injuries, and increased use.
Acting on the Cannabis Act: Workplace Policy Approaches to Cannabis summarizes a survey of Canadian employers which explored the effects of cannabis legalization on the workplace. The survey sought information on the policy approaches organizations have taken since legalization, focusing on problematic substance use, challenges that have arisen and workplace education.
Some key findings included:
- 68 per cent of organizations prepared for legalization by updating their alcohol and drug policies, implementing fit-for-duty policies and clearly defining consequences for non-adherence
- 76 per cent of employers created a policy to address cannabis use during work hours, while 43 per cent also updated policies to address use during off-work hours
- 70 per cent of employers implemented a “fit-for-duty” policy, where employees are expected to come to work unimpaired, in order to be safe and effective at their jobs
- 40 per cent of respondents said they have a zero-tolerance policy in effect under all circumstances (This is especially prevalent in highly safety-sensitive organizations such as transportation and warehousing, construction and manufacturing, and natural resources.)
- 60 per cent of employers said they were not concerned about problematic substance use in the workplace
- 45 per cent of respondents said they are taking a harm reduction approach, raising awareness and increasing education about how to consume cannabis safely, while 57 per cent of organizations said they provide education on substance use policies
As the only G7 country with legalized cannabis, Canada’s employers are paving the way and setting examples for the rest of world. However, they struggle with little information and a clear direction. CMHA Ontario created a resource to support employers in updating their policies in the wake of cannabis legalization. Impairment in the workplace: what your organization needs to know outlines the rights of employers and employees, approaches to responding to impairment in the workplace, and information on how to develop comprehensive and non-stigmatizing policies and accommodations.