Cannabis is legal in most US states, which is it’s crucial for employers to understand all aspects of its legalization.
In 2018, Canada legalized the recreational use of marijuana. They are permitted to carry a small amount of marijuana under the new laws. In some areas, people are allowed to smoke weed in public places (e.g., parks, sidewalks, etc.).
As of now, major states like Michigan and Illinois have legalized the use of recreational cannabis, which has led people thinking what changes might show up in workplaces. Surprisingly, the use of marijuana at work remains illegal federally.
Today, we’re going to discuss the legalization of marijuana and best tips for HR professionals. It’s time to get your policies and procedures updated!
#1: Review and Understand Employer Protection
Legalization of the use of cannabis doesn’t indicate employees can smoke weed during work hours. Employers aren’t required to accommodate or permit the use, possession, consumption, display, transfer, sell, transportation, or growing of cannabis in the office and can regulate or prohibit cannabis use on their premises.
Furthermore, the law specifically states it doesn’t create any cause of action against an employer who discharges an employee for not abiding by the policy that prohibits or restricts the use of cannabis during office time.
Therefore, if an employee is found smoking pot during lunch break or brings his or her cannabis plant in the workplace for show and tell, as an HR professional, it’s your duty to quickly respond, “NO!”
#2: Don’t Forget to Address Medicinal Marijuana Use
States like Vermont and Michigan have specific laws on the therapeutic use of marijuana. However, employers don’t necessarily have to accommodate employees’ request to consume cannabis at work, even if it’s being used for treating some sort of disability.
That being said, if an employer finds out that one of the employees is using cannabis for medical purposes, the employer must engage in the “interactive process” with that employee to identify whether or not he/she can perform the required job functions, with decent accommodation.
Companies should consult with their employment counsel prior to taking adverse action against employees in such situations. Industries that require employees to work with heavy machinery, working under the influence should be prohibited over there. HR professionals can alter drug screening guidelines to exclude cannabis during a routine test for drugs.
#3: Update Your Drug-Related Policies
According to the law, HR professionals can implement policies to prohibit cannabis use in the workplace. Employers need to confirm they have a serious drug-free policy that prohibits workplace intoxication.
Employers must also confirm the prohibitions in the policy applies to cannabis. Communicating such policies to employees can be a great way to remind them of your company’s expectations. You can use employee training, email, and several other channels to communicate your policy. Furthermore, using the right HR Tech will solve most of your HR-related problems while providing you enough time to focus on establishing your business.
#4: Look Out for Behavioral Changes that Indicate Intoxication
HR professionals should always be prepared to determine and document their suspicion that one of the employees might be under the influence of cannabis at work. Employers should take concerns and complaints about employee intoxication very seriously. They must continue to stay up-to-date on new developments in the law.
#5: Clearing Doubts
Although you should keep strict policies against smoking pot during work hours, we highly recommend not putting down any questions concerning medical marijuana use by your employees. Instead, consider asking them to explain any accommodations needed.
As an HR professional, you should respect your employee’s right to privacy on matters regarding medical issues. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot ask them about their medical records to ensure employee effectiveness at work.
Employers may insist on employees to carefully use medical cannabis plant flowers in cases where they are fully dependent on it to potentially tolerate pain and function well.
#6: No Smoking Pot During Office Hours
It doesn’t matter whether or not cannabis gets legalized federally; HR professionals should enforce strict rules on employees to have them attending work while sober. This can be imposed on office employees effortlessly.
For employees spending most of their time working as delivery drivers, security guards, etc., it can be difficult for you to monitor them 24/7. Therefore, consider obtaining a clear understanding of them and ensuring they are aware of each policy enforced by the superiors.
Insurance companies and business owners should work side-by-side to create a marijuana policy that works for everyone.
Employers need to consider recreational and medical use of cannabis as two different streams. This will help them decide when to accommodate marijuana use for medical purposes. The tips mentioned above should help reduce your confusion and boost transparency concerning marijuana legalization at work.
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