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Nearly a quarter of workers believe they will or may be allowed to use pot during work hours: poll

CTV News with Muneeza Sheikh 10 October 2018

Nearly a quarter of Canadian employees believe they definitely will or might be able to consume cannabis during work hours after it becomes legal on Oct. 17, according to a new Ipsos poll.

The poll, which was commissioned by ADP Canada, a company that provides human resource services to businesses across the country, surveyed 1,000 working Canadians. The respondents were equally split between managers and non-managers over the age of 18.

The poll showed that the majority of employees believe they will not be allowed to use marijuana for recreational purposes before or during work hours (such as on an employee’s lunch or coffee break, or while working remotely). However, about 17 per cent said they believed they may be allowed to consume the drug during work hours, as their employer hadn’t specified the rules. Another six per cent of respondents said they believed they would be allowed to use marijuana during or before work hours. Seven per cent weren’t sure.

The poll also showed a significant knowledge gap regarding the policies in place about drug and alcohol consumption in the workplace.

Of the people surveyed, 65 per cent of non-managers said that their employers have not communicated workplace expectations on the recreational use of cannabis.

“It’s clear, managers need to have detailed, informed and thorough conversations with employees about what constitutes acceptable behaviour in the workplace when it comes to cannabis,” Hendrik Steenkamp, Director and HR Advisory of ADP Canada, said in a statement. “Having these conversations early on will help to set clear expectations on both sides and reduce the chance for any negative impact on workplace performance and productivity.”

About 17 per cent of non-managers said they were unsure whether those expectations were communicated clearly.

According to employment lawyer Muneeza Sheikh, the government is not providing enough resources for employers to accurately communicate their expectations regarding the use of marijuana.

“Employers absolutely have a legal obligation to be well-versed in what qualifies as appropriate marijuana use, whether that’s recreational use or medicinal,” Sheikh told CTV News Toronto. “The research at the present is so scant that employers know that they have the obligation to discuss the use of marijuana, but they don’t really know what to say.”

Sheikh also said that employers have the right to implement a zero tolerance policy at their place of business.

“A lot of employees seem to be under the impression that with the legalization of marijuana, they then have free reign to use recreational marijuana in the workplace, which I can tell you is not going to be the case,” she said.

The poll shows that 10 per cent of managers believe they will be able to consume cannabis during work hours, while two per cent of non-managers believe they will be able to do the same.

Managers are more likely to use cannabis for recreational purposes during or before work hours, the poll shows. About 19 per cent of managers say they were very likely or somewhat likely to consume cannabis for recreational purposes before going to work. About 14 per cent of managers surveyed said it’s very or somewhat likely that they will consume cannabis during work hours.

By comparison, only seven per cent of non-managers said they were likely to use cannabis before work. The number of non-managers very or somewhat likely to use the drug during work hours was reduced even further to four per cent.

“Changes in the workplace are always difficult to navigate, but it appears cannabis legalization for recreational purposes adds a particularly complex disconnect between the expectations and intentions of employers and their employees,” Steenkamp said. “It’s particularly interesting to see that employees without managerial responsibilities are more reserved in their expectations of personal use during working hours than their managerial counterparts.”

More than a quarter of respondents said they were very or somewhat likely to use cannabis recreationally while socializing with colleagues after-hours.

The Ipsos poll was conducted between September 17 and 21, 2018. It is considered accurate within 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.