HR should be 'very concerned' about cannabis legalization: Employers

42 per cent of workers expect medical cannabis coverage
||Last Updated: 10/17/2018
Survey research by Mercer finds a disconnect between how prepared employers and employees feel for legal cannabis. Shutterstock

Seventy-eight per cent of Canadian employers believe their organization’s HR leadership should be very concerned about cannabis legalization, according to a survey of 366 organizations.

And only 28 per cent of employees describe their workplace as well prepared, according to a survey of 1,008 workers.

The two surveys, conducted by global consulting company Mercer, revealed that while 90 per cent of employers plan to update their drug and alcohol/substance use policy, less than 40 per cent plan to revise their code of conduct and disability accommodation.

“Our data shows that although employers are aware that cannabis legalization will have an impact on their workplace, these impacts haven’t been fully examined across the whole of the organization,” says Alex Boucher, principal and total health management Leader for Canada at Mercer.

“The implications of legal cannabis consumption should be thought through carefully, across the entirety of an organization’s operations, including situations as diverse as forklift operations, holiday parties and decision critical roles — like key leaders. Organizations should also consider the implications for their employee health benefits plans.”

Further, the research finds a disconnect between how prepared employers and employees feel for legal cannabis.

While one-third of employers surveyed feels prepared for legal cannabis and another third feels somewhat prepared, only one in four Canadians (26 per cent) feel that their employers are ready – and many more simply don’t know.

Additionally, 22 per cent of employee respondents say their workplace has clearly communicated medical cannabis policies, while 42 per cent expect to see their health and drug plan provide at least some coverage of medical cannabis.

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