Government workers must be ‘fit for duty’ after marijuana legalization
After marijuana became legal nationwide last Wednesday, employers are turning over a new leaf on drug policies.
Employees with the Saskatchewan government — the largest employer in the province — must show up to work “fit for duty” in the wake of legalization.
“Fit for duty means that they are able to perform their duties without any impact by any substance use,” said Ray Deck, assistant chair with the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission.
The standard applies to all government employees. But, people working in executive government or in non-safety sensitive Crown jobs aren’t subject to drug testing.
“(The) government of Saskatchewan doesn’t have a policy regarding drug testing,” Deck said. “Our approach will be to have supervisors and managers assess that employees are showing up for work fit for duty.”
When work is safety sensitive, things get a bit more complicated. SaskTel, SaskPower, Saskatchewan Government Insurance and SaskEnergy don’t do random drug testing. But, SaskTel, SaskPower and SaskEnergy will test employees showing signs of impairment, or if there is a safety incident.
“You can’t be impaired by drugs or alcohol in those positions, because your impaired motor skills or lack of judgement could result in injuries or worse for your coworkers, for members of the public,” Dave Burdeniuk with SaskEnergy said.
“We treat it the same as any drug, prescription drug, as well as alcohol,” said Kathy McCrum with SaskPower.
SaskEnergy will also test employees before they are hired to work in a safety-related position. SaskTel will also do a drug test if that’s a requirement of a customer.
Michael Scott, a litigation lawyer in Regina, says employers need to have a valid reason to ask their employees for a drug test.
“The testing will be based upon a need for it or a perceived need for it, as opposed to a blanket policy,” he said. “It has to have a relationship to not only the drug, but has to have a relationship to what the person does at work.”
Scott adds the best practice is to always arrive to work sober.