Fighting Substance Abuse in the Workplace

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Employers are not only responsible for the physical well-being and safety of their workers, but they must also see to it that their mental health concerns are integrated into their occupational health and safety programs. One of the big issues that can threaten workplace safety is substance abuse. Although employers have a role in encouraging their employees to develop a healthy lifestyle, they may not cross the line in pressuring their workers to do so or to discriminate against those who have unhealthy lifestyles. The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who have a previous or existing alcohol or drug dependence problem, which is considered a disability.
Therefore, employers cannot just fire, dismiss, suspend, demote or discipline an employee who is suffering from alcoholism or addiction' class='brand-secondary'>drug addiction. However, the Commission on Human Rights encourages employers to focus their programs and policies on identifying impairment and safety risks, and to enforce remedial, instead of punitive measures. An employer may legally intervene in situations wh...

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