With many employers expecting to have workers engaging in St. Patrick’s Day festivities, which can include partaking in some alcoholic beverages, it is important to ensure that your organization has a solid Substance Use policy in place. By enforcing this type of policy, you can promote a safe and healthy environment for your employees.
A Substance Use policy should outline the rules and restrictions surrounding alcohol, drug (both prescription and non-prescription), and tobacco use. It should also include the use of e-cigarettes and vaping tools, which have increased in popularity recently.
Important Elements to Include in your Company’s Substance Use Policy
Substance abuse and the Human Rights Code
While setting expectations that employees wait until after work hours to take part in any St. Paddy's Day celebrations and dealing with one-off breaches to your policy may be expected, it is important to remember that Ontario's Human Rights Commission views dependence on substances as a form of disability.
Individuals who are perceived as having an addiction or dependency due to alcohol or drug use, or those who have had alcohol and drug addiction/dependency in the past will be protected under the Human Rights Code. When dealing with this type of disability in the workplace, accommodation in order to perform the essential duties of a job is required to the point of undue hardship. Undue hardship in this case would include health and safety risks to workers or members of the public that outweigh the benefits of providing equal treatment to the worker with an addiction or dependency.
Source: Ontario Human Rights Commission website
How can I help accommodate my employees?
In accommodating an individual who suffers from this type of disability, the individual does have the responsibility to communicate the need for accommodation and co-operate in accommodation efforts.
If the individual’s drug or alcohol addiction or dependency interferes with their ability to perform essential duties of their job, as an employer you must provide support to enable your employee to undertake a rehabilitation program, such as an EAP (Employee Assistance Program), unless you can prove that this type of accommodation would cause undue hardship.
As an Employer, you are responsible and liable for the safety and well-being of your employees. Through providing your employees with a written policy, and accommodation to the point of undue hardship, it is possible to mitigate costs that may be associated with potential lawsuits.
Have any questions?
Have any additional questions about setting up workplace policies for your employees or managing an employee with substance abuse issues? The HR professionals at Clear Path are here to help. Contact Anna Aceto-Guerin at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at (888) 336-0950 to get started.
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