By Keith Kilback, Q.C.
(To read part one, go here)
Why Policies Matter
Workplace policies perform several functions. At minimum, they establish the employer’s expectations of employee conduct and provide clear guidelines for managers and supervisors when they need to address employee behavior. A policy that clearly sets out expectations in the workplace can not only help in avoiding employee misconduct, but can also support an employer’s ability to discipline employees where appropriate. A well-written and properly implemented and enforced workplace policy can also be invaluable in supporting an employer’s ability to defend a legal claim against it, whether a regulatory complaint, a criminal charge, or a civil lawsuit.
With the legalization of recreational cannabis, several issues relevant to trucking operations should be considered when reviewing existing policies.
Many employers have relied on zero tolerance policies to avoid problems associated with the workplace use of cannabis, often by including a policy provision that simply banned the use of all illegal drugs. However, now that cannabis is no longer an “illegal drug,” the use of cannabis may no longer be effectively addressed by existing polices.
A zero tolerance policy is also potentially problematic because of an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee’s disability under human rights legislation. A zero tolerance policy could discriminate against employees who are not just recreational users, but who use cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability, consume cannabis for medical purposes, or who are dealing with a cannabis addiction. Employees in these circumstances may require special accommodation, which can be addressed in a policy.
The information in this article is provided for general interest only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice applicable to a particular person or situation. If you require legal advice, we would be pleased to discuss the issues in this article with you, in the context of your particular circumstances.
Keith Kilback, Q.C.
Kanuka Thuringer LLP