All Things Substance Use and the Workplace

Hey, Basecampers! Recently, we held a webinar for our members on impairment in the workplace. We get asked almost daily about various impairment issues in our Solution Center, so we knew we had to spread some education about it.

During that webinar, we had a live Q&A at the end for attendees to ask all of their burning questions about the topic. The questions were so good that we just had to share some of them with the rest of our community because this is HR knowledge that can help everyone!

Check out the questions below, and don’t forget to join our Facebook group to participate in future discussions! If you want to learn more about impairment and substance use in the workplace, fill out the form at the bottom of this page, and we will email you a link to the full on-demand version of this webinar!

What if I find an employee in possession of something on the job (like a THC vape pen), what should I do?

Prefer to read? Transcript of the answer below:

“Well, your drugs and alcohol policy, which we covered a lot earlier, does cover possession, and it does prohibit anybody from bringing any substance, even alcohol. But a vape pen, sometimes (I think a couple of weeks ago) we had somebody with meth in the bathroom, any substance onto practice property [is covered by the drugs and alcohol policy].

And so if you do find that, and you verify that that's what the substance is and that it's not a different kind of vape, you know, you have to be really sure about what it is that you have. But if you verify that's what it is, you can discipline or terminate for just the possession. and you want to be sure you're treating everybody equally.

So you don't want to let somebody who, you know, brought the bottle of wine when they shouldn't just take it back out to their car. Whereas you treat the person with the vape pen, you terminate them. So make sure you're kind of treating everybody who engages in the same behavior, the same."
Remember to fill out the form below to access the entire webinar!

What should I do if I'm observing someone who I suspect might be high but they don't smell like cannabis? What if it was an edible or a vape pen?

Prefer to read? Transcript of the answer below:

“I think that's even- that's even more common than smelling. Right? Because it flies under the radar.

So you would have to do your objective signs and symptoms. You would have to say that this person's slower than usual, sleepier than usual, they've made mistakes in the treatment. Whatever you're seeing, they've missed three phone calls, anything like that that you're observing and get your second person to verify. That might be a situation though, where you are in that is this documentation enough? You know, for a test because that can be more subtle when you don't have really obvious signs.

So if you're in a gray area for is this documentation enough to really send someone for a test and you have to really think through when you're testing someone, sometimes it's just a test. You know, if you've ever been in the military or worked at a big place where they do random drug tests and things like that, it doesn't have to be personal.

But at a small place where you're not testing people every day, it is personal. So my two cents is if you're not sure and you're not sure you have enough to test, sit them down and say something weird is going on, you know, and not make the assumption that they're under the law, but you're not seeming like yourself today. Let's have a chat about that.

So you could always treat it like a performance issue if you're not having enough to test. But if you do have enough to test where you're seeing really objective physical sciences symptoms, you send them for a test, just like we talked about earlier in the webinar.”

What if an employee uses cannabis during an after-hours work event?

Prefer to read? Transcript answer below:

“So that is a loaded question! I will try to distill it down in the time that we have. If it's a required work event that we are all going together, you're on the clock, or I'm very, very strongly encouraging you to come to this happy hour, or come to this bonding event, whatever that may be….Then you treat them just like they're at work. Your policies would apply.

If it's the other thing where it's just, Hey, friend, friend, friend. No manager's telling us we have to do this. We're just going to go out and get a bite to eat. Going to do a happy hour. Hey, come to my house and they're completely off-duty. That would fall under lawful off-duty conduct. And you would have to really look at was there a policy violation or was this lawful off-duty conduct? So if we treat it kind of just like we treat alcohol, if someone gets drunk at a non-work-related event, but they send inappropriate text messages or say inappropriate things to their coworkers that violate your policies, they're still in trouble because they violated a different policy.

It wasn't drinking off duty. It was doing the other behaviors. So you could have the same thing, right? Where if it's, you know, you're you're not on the clock and you're not subject to the on-duty policies, but there's still other problematic behavior you could address the other problematic behavior. If there's no other problematic behavior. And you're just aware generally that they're using in lawful off-duty ways, then you don't address it.”

Remember to fill out the form below to access the entire webinar!

Mar 25, 2024

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and is not intended to provide legal advice or replace individual guidance about a specific issue with an attorney or HR expert. The information on this page is general human resources guidance based on applicable local, state and/or federal U.S. employment law that is believed to be current as of the date of publication. Note that CEDR is not a law firm, and as the law is always changing, you should consult with a qualified attorney or HR expert who is familiar with all of the facts of your situation before making a decision about any human resources or employment law matter.

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