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MANAGING
THE WORKPLACE

SUBSTANCE USE AND THE WORKPLACE

What You Need To Know

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), substance use is often thought of as an addiction or dependence, but use can be anywhere on the spectrum or scale from recreational to frequent to problematic.  The term “substance use” refers to the use of drugs or alcohol, and includes substances such as cigarettes, illegal drugs, prescription or medically authorized drugs, inhalants and solvents.

Ways that problematic substance use may cause issues at work include:

Employers should also be aware of their duty to accommodate employees under the protected grounds of the Human Rights Act, including addiction which is considered a disability.  To learn more about the employer and employee’s obligations under workplace accommodation, please contact the Human Rights Commission.

Why You Need To Know

Employers have a duty to:

Costs associated with substance use are hidden by general absenteeism or illnesses, “unnoticed” lack of productivity, or inability or reluctance to link substance use directly with causes of incidents (CCOHS).

Substance use related costs may be both direct and indirect. The impact of substance use that have been reported include:

Additional costs can include:

What You Need To Do

You need to comply with privacy legislation (collection, use, and disclosure of personal information), Occupational Health and Safety legislation, and Human Rights legislation. As an employer, you also have a right and responsibility to create a safe work environment and to educate your employees on their rights and responsibilities.

Specific information cannot be provided in this toolkit as every situation is different. Depending on the situation you may need to consult with the Human Rights Commission, the Workers Compensation Board (for Occupational Health and Safety), law enforcement, legal counsel, a trained workplace investigator, or a Chartered Professional in Human Resources.  Maintaining proper documentation is key.

Be prepared. Be proactive.

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