News Article

Marijuana Legalization Looming: Employers Seek Clarity on New Laws

Posted: June 12, 2018 By : Knowledge Bureau Staff Writers
Posted in: Strategic Thinking, DAC, knowledge bureau, Evelyn Jacks, entrepreneur, leadership courses, Executive Business Builder Program, marijuana legalization, Business Builder Retreat, leadership issues, cannabis in canada, business law, legal education, employment law, Philippe Richer, TLR Law, Manitoba lawyer, Business Law course

Tread lightly into new, uncharted territory: it’s good advice as marijuana legalization is set to occur on July 1, 2018. But many Canadian employers and their staff are still unclear about the legal implications. Now, we have some more answers from Manitoba lawyer Philippe Richer.

Tread lightly into new, uncharted territory: it’s good advice as marijuana legalization is set to occur on July 1, 2018. But many Canadian employers and their staff are still unclear about the legal implications. Now, we have some more answers from Manitoba lawyer Philippe Richer. 

In April, we wrote about this issue after one of the thought leaders on the Executive Business Builder Network asked if fellow business owners would allow marijuana use at work, if banning it violates employee rights, and if it falls under the same workplace regulations as alcohol. It became clear that business owners aren’t sure how to answer these questions, as guidelines have yet to be provided by the federal government.

However, this is a legal concern that will affect business leaders soon, so the following insights from Philippe Richer (The excerpt that follows is from his law blog), author of the Executive Business Builder Program Business Law course, are timely. 

Marijuana and employment – can employees smoke cannabis at work? Will employees be able to take marijuana breaks like cigarette smokers? Will employees be able to smoke a joint during their lunch hour? The immediate reaction seems obvious. Most would probably think that employees should not attend the workplace high. We don’t tolerate drunk employees, after all.

But when you start thinking about it, we don’t prohibit employees from having a glass of wine or a beer over lunch either. In fact, many employers (myself included) celebrate certain events at restaurants with staff. We (occasionally) have a bottle of wine. If we allow employees to have alcohol at lunch, can we prohibit them from smoking a joint?

Clear-cut cases. Let’s start with clear-cut cases. If an employee operates dangerous equipment, an employer must prohibit the consumption of cannabis and alcohol. These are safety issues and an employer must never compromise on safety.

Employers may also prohibit employees from smoking recreational cannabis during working hours in the same way that employers prohibit the consumption of alcohol while at work. No one drinks wine or beer in their cubicle or on their coffee breaks.

Employers should, however, be careful about terminating or disciplining employees who have addiction problems. In Manitoba, under the Human Rights Code, employers have a duty to accommodate disabilities. Alcohol and drug dependencies are considered disabilities. While you can prohibit an intoxicated employee from operating dangerous equipment or consuming during working hours, you will likely have to make efforts to accommodate the employee while he or she attempts to overcome his or her addiction.

Next time: more difficult cases. 

Philippe Richer is President of TLR Law Group. TLR has been located in the St. Boniface neighbourhood, in Winnipeg, since 1996. The office serves the middle class and small business within the province. With a focus on estates, wills, real estate and corporate law, he leads his team in providing accessible legal services. Philippe also authored the business law course for the Knowledge Bureau and instructed the français juridique class at the faculty of Law at the University of Manitoba.

Additional educational resources:

  1. Join Knowledge Bureau in discussing tough issues like these that affect Canadian business leaders, on the LinkedIn Executive Business Builder Network. Also, register today and join fellow business leaders from various industries at the Business Builder Retreat that we are so pleased to unveil for the first time at the Distinguished Advisor Conference in November.
  2. Enroll online and study at your convenience. A free trial of Business Law from the Executive Business Builder Program is available. Or, complete the full designation.
  3. Are you a small business owner ready to brush up your skills to better address operational needs? Register for our Insurance Strategies for the Small Business Owner or T1 Professional Tax Preparation – Proprietorships certificate courses. June 15 is the spring session deadline to save on tuition!

COPYRIGHT OWNED BY KNOWLEDGE BUREAU INC. 2018.

UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IS PROHIBITED.

 

Refer a Friend       Research    Calculators Course Trials