When are you allowed to drug test an employee?

When are you allowed to drug test an employee?

When are you allowed...Cannabis could well become a regular feature in Canadian workplaces in the near future. With this new world of legalization comes anxiety over inebriation and safety risks – with many leaders asking when they can drug test employees.

“I don’t think employers are aware of how likely it is they’ll be affected by the use of medical marijuana in Canadian workplaces,” explained Peter Straszynski, of Torkin Manes LLP.

“In many ways, I think their concerns are primarily, ‘what do we do when cannabis is legalized?’ and ‘how will that impact our workplace?’”

With that in mind, are anxious employers allowed to carry out random drug tests on their workers whenever they see fit? Or would that be a violation of their human rights?

“We would have to advise employers that random drug tests are really not permissible right now in Canada,” continued Straszynski.

“Our Human Rights Tribunals across the country consider random testing to be too much of an intrusion,” he told us. “Having said that, the tribunals have recognized that safety sensitive work can require mandatory testing, either where there’s been an accident or a significant incident, or there’s a reasonable suspicion a worker is intoxicated.”

This law arose out of the oil fields in Alberta, where they were trying to impose drug testing as much as possible when employees were working with heavy machinery.

However, even if testing becomes permissible – employees still face a challenge.

“Cannabis testing, right now, can only show if there is THC in an employee’s system,” continued Straszynski. “There’s no test that provides a reliable indicator as to what the level of intoxication is, unlike with alcohol which can be duly measured.”
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