You can develop a substance use or alcohol and drug policy to help protect your employees and minimize liability.
Substance use can affect job performance in many ways. Impairment from alcohol, cannabis, illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs can affect alertness, concentration, decision-making, efficiency and accuracy of work. It can also lead to absenteeism, reduced productivity, injury and illness.
- In 2014, substance use cost the Canadian economy $15.7 billion per year in lost productivity and alcohol was the leading cause.
- 72% of employers report having a formal alcohol and drug policy.
- A typical workplace has a rate of alcoholism and excessive drinking in approximately 10 to 20% of employees and a rate of illicit drug use from 2 to 7%.
- 88% of employers offered at least one support program for problematic substance use among employees (most common were EAP/EAFP programs).
Create your plan
The following action plans can be used to create your substance misuse plan for your organization.
Create a policy
- The policy should meet the unique needs of your workplace. Don't just copy the policy of another company.
- Ensure your policy applies to everyone and all occupations in your workplace.
- Create a separate policy, as required, for employees in safety-sensitive positions.
- Obtain information on local, provincial and federal laws that could influence policy development at your workplace.
Assess factors at work that may contribute to substance misuse
Pay attention to things like:
- High stress
- Long hours
- Irregular shifts
- Repetitious duties
- Remote supervision
- Easy access to substances
- Providing alcohol at company events
Plan responses ahead of time
Include specific responses to job performance issues related to substance use and procedures for handling a situation if the need arises.
Clearly identify ways for employees to seek assessment and support. For example EAP, counseling, treatment.
Communicate the policy
Use the organization's various communication channels to communicate the new policy to all staff.
Plan for training
Provide supervisor training to ensure consistent and appropriate application of the policy.
Enforce your policies in a fair and consistent manner.
Make time to review the policy
- Evaluate the policy with respect to implementation and effectiveness.
- Review the policy periodically to ensure it remains current.
- Invite employee and manager feedback.
- Brief overview of substance abuse in the workplace - Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- An overview of how to develop a workplace drug policy - Great West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace Initiative
- A step-by-step guide and toolkit for addressing problematic substance use - Atlantic Canada Council on Addiction (Includes a policy development checklist)
- An employers guide to understanding and avoiding alcohol liability - Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada
- Information about drug and alcohol addiction services in Ontario - Drug and Alcohol Helpline