How to manage impairment at work

The legalization of cannabis caused many business owners some pause: what can you do, as an employer, if your employees take cannabis?

While the situation has been brought to the forefront due to cannabis legalization, it’s important to remember that impairment extends to alcohol and even prescription medication. The government of Canada defines an impaired individual within a workplace context as “someone who may have difficulty completing tasks in a safe manner and may put themselves, their coworkers and the public in danger.”

What are the employer’s responsibilities

There are currently no provisions in the Labour Code that cover how to manage impairment. However, employers must implement a Hazard Prevention Program which can include policies with regards to the use of cannabis or impairment inducing substances.

Their main responsibility is to ensure the health and safety of all employees and the public.

Is drug testing allowed?

There is no blanket regulation with regards to drug testing, though it may be permissible in specific instances. In general, however, drug testing is deemed as being discriminatory. See What are the rules for drug testing in Canada? for more information.

What are alternatives to drug testing?

Monitoring, through frequent conversations, observation and supervision, is the recommended course of action.

What about medical marijuana?

Like any other prescription medication, an employer has to accommodate employees who use medicinal marijuana. Of course, this is contingent on employees having all the legal and medical documentation to possess and use cannabis for medical purposes.

In all cases, employees are expected to be able to perform their job safely and to complete their tasks successfully, regardless of the medication they take.

The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter or as encouragement to consume cannabis. For more information, please visit:

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