1 in 5 Small Businesses Would Allow Employees to Use Medical Marijuana While at Work, Study Finds
RENO, Nev.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Oct. 14, 2015— Now that marijuana has become legal in 24 states for medicinal or recreational purposes, a new poll by EMPLOYERS® (NYSE:EIG), America’s small business insurance specialist® found that small businesses have mixed feelings about its presence in the workplace. One in five small business owners (19 percent) said they would allow an employee who has a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana to use it while at work, while nearly two-thirds of small business owners (62 percent) said they would not. Another 17 percent of small business owners were not sure whether they would allow employees to use the drug while at work.
“We encourage all small businesses to maintain drug-free workplaces because employees who are under the influence of illicit substances, or misuse or abuse prescription drugs, can put themselves, other employees or customers at risk of injury or other harm, said Dr. Dwight Robertson, medical director, EMPLOYERS. “The most important step employers can take is to have a clearly documented workplace safety policy that specifically addresses drug use in the workplace.”
The EMPLOYERS survey found that 42 percent of small businesses do not have a written policy prohibiting employees from possessing, using or being under the influence of marijuana at work. And nearly three-quarters of small businesses (74 percent) do not require their employees to take drug tests.
The prevalence of controlled substances in the workplace may be greater than employers believe. Eighty-one percent of the small business owners polled said they were unconcerned (20 percent not too concerned, 61 percent not at all concerned) that their employees would come to work under the influence of marijuana now that it is becoming legal in more states. Nearly one in 10 small business owners indicated that employees have shown up for work under the influence of a controlled substance, including marijuana, alcohol or narcotic painkillers.
All employees should be aware of rules and regulations as well as consequences of using controlled or illicit substances on the job.
Three tips Dr. Robertson recommends when developing and assessing a drug-free policy include:
- Build employee awareness. Maintaining a drug-free workplace starts with educating employees about the dangers of drug use on the job and assuring they understand the company’s policies pertaining to it.
- Establish guidelines. Create a drug-free workplace policy that informs employees about the specific drug-related activities that are prohibited as part of their employment. These should specifically address:
- Prohibiting manufacturing, distributing or dispensing marijuana or other controlled or illicit substances
- Which substances are prohibited by the company
- What the consequences are for failing to comply with company policies. Some businesses go a step further and require periodic drug testing for all employees.
- Enforce consequences. In addition to communicating what the consequences are if an employee fails to follow company policy, they also need to be enforced. For many businesses, failure to comply with a drug-free workplace policy can result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
By instituting and enforcing drug-free workplace policies, businesses can help protect themselves from workplace safety risks and maintain a strong, healthy and safe business.
Business owners should consult an attorney in their state before implementing a drug-free workplace policy.
EMPLOYERS® facilitated a telephone survey of small business decision makers through the SSRS Small Business Omnibus Survey. Interviews were completed with a nationally representative sample of 501 small businesses that have fewer than 100 employees. Data were weighted by number of employees, region and industry to reflect the proportion of small businesses in the United States. The margin of error is +/-4.4%. Fieldwork was conducted from May 14 and 29, 2015.