Substance use can have a significant impact on the workplace. It affects employers, employees and potentially the public. The type of substance use can vary in its severity from an employee drinking alcohol during a business lunch to an employee affected by an addiction to opioids. Employers can feel the impact through lost productivity, through the lowered morale of employees or through the compromised safety of the public.
Substance use is not the only type of impairment (e.g., fatigue, stress, family crisis) that can affect the workplace. Employers typically do not receive nor should they be expected to receive training in recognizing the different types of impairment. While they should be prepared to observe and identify impairment, they should leave diagnoses up to professionals.
Using the proper resources to assist them, employers can help their staff deal with impairment in the workplace by developing comprehensive policies that focus on prevention and education, by reducing the stigma surrounding substance use and by improving employee supports.
The Canadian Substance Use Costs and Harms: 2007–2014 report estimates that lost productivity to businesses attributable to substance use in 2014 was $15.7 billion dollars. With the recent legalization of cannabis, many employers are re-examining their policies and best practices related to substance use and fitness for duty/impairment more broadly to ensure that they are comprehensive and effective.
To help employers, CCSA conducted a review of Canadian workplace policies and best practices to find out what employers were doing to address substance use and the workplace. Review key findings from the report or download the full report below.