Ask a Lawyer: Are you allowed to implement a ‘no pot policy’ at work?

From Ontario’s Bill 148 to the imminent legalization of marijuana, employers have their plates full with legislative amendments and contested drug testing laws

Ask a Lawyer: Are you allowed to implement a ‘no pot policy’ at work?
2018 is a year of change for Canadian workplaces. From Ontario’s Bill 148 to the imminent legalization of marijuana, employers have their plates full with legislative amendments and contested drug testing laws.

So, in the face of a potentially pot-riddled staff base, can employers instigate a no-marijuana rule at work?

We spoke to Muneeza Sheikh, partner at Levitt, LLLP, who gave us her take on the highly controversial issue.

“First, organizations had to grapple with illegal marijuana use, then with medical marijuana and now with recreational marijuana. There are three main issues I foresee employers running into in 2018.

“Firstly, liability; if an employee using recreational marijuana causes a workplace accident. Secondly, push back from employees who are now going to try to resist random drug and alcohol testing; and, finally, the manner in which the government is dealing with employer rights.

“As employees have the right to use weed, this doesn’t circumvent the obligations that an employer has under existing legislation. The OHSA says that you have to provide every employee with a safe and healthy workplace, meaning you cannot allow employees to use recreational marijuana to the detriment of the working environment.

“Another issue I’m hearing a lot about, is whether or not employers are allowed to have a policy which prohibits recreational marijuana at work. I would say absolutely, you are. Whilst alcohol is not illegal, it doesn’t stand that you’re allowed to come to work intoxicated. The difference is that there’s a measuring stick when it comes to alcohol, there isn’t for marijuana – so it’s a lot harder to police.

“What we really have is employers out in the wild, unsure of how to approach the situation. Recently, we saw TTC trying to protect their drug and alcohol testing policy that they implanted in May. In TTC’s case, they were able to demonstrate issue with their drivers, but essentially, the court found that unless you can prove that drug use is a prevalent problem in your company it’s going to be very difficult to defend a random drug test.”

In other legal news, we spoke to Stephen Shore – who revealed where employers have a legal right to insist on a doctor’s note.


Related stories:
Staggering number of Canadians will ask for pay rises this year
Unprecedented stress & burnout for staff dealing with opioid crisis
 

Recent articles & video

Apotex CHRO Carina Vassilieva: increasing engagement with people analytics

WorkSafeNB launches workplace safety campaign for foreign workers

Graduates with advanced degrees struggle to find jobs in Quebec: report

Province reminds employers of responsibilities to protect workers from heat

Most Read Articles

Toronto commute ‘intolerable’, says Board of Trade CEO

3 unions team up to intervene in appeal of province’s pronoun law

Corus Entertainment laying off about 300 more workers due to revenue slumps