Risk management begins with a solid plan covering those areas where you are most likely to face problems. One area many employers are finding themselves stuck in is how to deal with the new California marijuana laws.
Common questions business owners tend to have are:
First, understand that you and your company do have rights when dealing with employees who use marijuana. However, like anything else, your policies have to be fair and equitable.
For example, as part of your risk management plan, you can have pre-employment marijuana testing. The testing must be equitable. You may not single out specific individuals. If you decide to test driver applicants for your trucking fleet, you have to check all of the applicants.
Furthermore, according to the California Department of Public Health, as a property owner, you have the right to prohibit the use or possession of marijuana on your property.
Do you carry government contracts?
If you have won any government contracts, check to see what the requirements are for drug testing. Federal law doesn't require everybody to be tested, only when they are working in "sensitive" areas like transportation or aerospace.
What if you have an employee you suspect is under the influence during work hours?
Ask yourself, what would you do if an employee was under the influence of alcohol while working? You would probably remove him or her from the workplace, especially if they could cause an injury to themselves or others.
For some reason, many employers lose sight of the fact that they must take precautionary steps to protect all of their employees. If an employee is showing objective signs of being under the influence of any medication, recreational or not, and it's impairing their performance, they should be removed. The important thing for you to do is document everything very well. Include witnesses, accidents, pictures, whatever is necessary to accurately and thoroughly record the incident.
Should you terminate employees who use marijuana?
Termination of employees is a very touchy subject both legally and emotionally. The first step is to check your risk management plan and see what the rules you created to deal with an intoxicated employee are. Make sure you have documented any incidents leading to the termination, and then take the appropriate steps from there.
On top of all of these rules, remember the rules are always changing. For example, there is a law making its way through the California Legislature that would give special protections to medical marijuana users.
One way you can protect yourself from liabilities arising from marijuana use and employment law is to look into the protection of an Employment Practices Liability policy. This policy covers employers against claims of wrongful termination and other employment practices.
Contact us at Culture Insurance if you are facing a change in your risk management plan. We are experts at helping San Diego area companies mitigate their risks and protect themselves from future liabilities.