EMPLOYER INSIGHTS | Balancing Medical Marijuana and Workplace Safety

EMPLOYER INSIGHTS | Balancing Medical Marijuana and Workplace Safety

By Lee Allphin, Employer Advantage Founder and Chairman of the Board

As part of Employer Advantage’s comprehensive suite of HR management and outsourcing services (HR, Payroll, Health & Benefits, Safety, and more), we take on the burden of our clients’ employee administration and compliance responsibilities. Please contact us if you would like assistance: Info@EmployerAdvantage.com | 877.476.9520

The legalization of medical marijuana has provided much-needed relief to many who suffer from debilitating neurological and mental health conditions. But unlike many prescriptions or even over-the-counter medications, a doctor’s authorization for a medical card for the legal use of cannabis is not accompanied with the standard warning…“May cause drowsiness and dizziness; do not operate heavy machinery while taking this medication.”

Despite its medical benefits, marijuana can have an impact on workplace safety and productivity. And with the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in many states, the dangers are often underappreciated by employers and employees alike.

Complicating matters further, a person using marijuana where it is legal won’t face criminal charges if the drug is used in compliance with state statutes. In the absence of important guidance about medical marijuana in the workplace, employers are left to navigate the balance between employee healthcare needs and workplace safety.

Here is a brief checklist of considerations and actions employers can take to better protect their employees and business:  

Carefully Weigh All Safety Issues

Safety issues are often a top concern regarding medical marijuana use in the workplace and are a valid basis for banning cannabis for certain vocations.

Marijuana use has been linked to an increase in job accidents and injuries, which employees may not be aware of. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that the short-term effects of marijuana include impaired body movement, difficulty with thinking and problem-solving, memory problems, and an altered sense of time.

The use of marijuana by employees in the transportation sector can be especially damaging. The drug impairs attentiveness, motor coordination, and reaction time and impacts the perception of time and speed. Studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse have found that marijuana negatively impacts driving performance. Other research indicates acute use of the drug increases the risk of crashes and fatal collisions.

  1. Determine if an employee operates any machinery or motor vehicles or any equipment that could be dangerous to the operator or those around them.
  2. State laws legalizing marijuana use do not require an employer to compromise workplace safety. Employers are allowed to ban the drug at work, and even terminate employees violating established policy.

Establish a Clear and Strong Medical Marijuana Policy

Any policy created should not be generic; it should indicate your company’s purpose for the policy and any federal requirements that impact the way it is structured. In addition, state drug testing and medical marijuana laws need to be considered.

Coordinate the policy with other substance abuse considerations. A policy might indicate that workers are not to use, possess, or be under the influence of controlled substances, including medical marijuana, while at work. To date, courts have ruled   employers may act under their substance abuse policy if an employee tests positive for marijuana, even if the drug is being used for medical purposes away from the workplace under state law.

Because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, employers do not need to consider its use as an accommodation under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. However, some newer medical marijuana laws offer additional employee protections, and these laws have not yet been tested in court.

Above all else, ensure your business complies with employee protection laws: Be familiar with all protections including discrimination, drug testing, and accommodation provisions. Employers should make sure their policy reflects additional steps that may need to be taken to meet their obligation to consider employee rights, while also guarding workplace safety.

Educate All Workers

Once the policy has been created, make it clear to employees that they are prohibited from being impaired by marijuana or other substances. Ensure that employees and supervisors understand that “legal” under state law does not protect them from termination if breaking policy.

Be sure to educate your workforce regarding the dangers of being under the influence of substances while working. A better understanding of the many dangers will enable employees to better understand that the policy is not created to be an infringement on their healthcare needs; rather, it is there to provide a safe working environment for all.

In summary, there is no substitute for the time, money and lives that may be saved by businesses that employ a solid workplace safety policy. Employer Advantage’s Safety and HR professionals are guiding our clients in establishing a Medical Marijuana policy that can be added to important safety guidelines already in place.

Not currently an Employer Advantage client?

WE’D BE HONORED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A NEW PATH TO HR BLISS.

We don’t just give quotes—We provide strategic business proposals.

-Free strategic assessment of your business needs

-Quick and easy account setup and seamless transitions

-Urgent requests | Please Call: Toll Free 877.476.9520

Click here to see our other helpful “Blog for All Employers”

About Employer Advantage

A New Path to HR Bliss – Trusted for more than 30 years, Employer Advantage frees you from the administrative and compliance burdens of having employees so you can focus on your business success. Versatile enough for companies of all sizes, our unique service combines comprehensive management of your employee administration and compliance with the latest software solutions, tailored to meet your individual needs and company culture. Our full-service management of Human Resourcespayrollhealth and benefits, workplace safety, and more enhance your profitability while reducing the costs and risks associated with employment law compliance. We provide your employees with top-notch assistance and benefits that help you increase productivity, save time and money, and attract and retain a talented workforce. And for small and mid-sized businesses, we bring you economy of scale with access to Fortune-500-level benefits, specialty assistance, and savings that would not be possible to attain on your own. Headquartered in the Midwest and serving more than 500 companies and 10,000 worksite employees throughout the country, Employer Advantage is an IRS-Certified Professional Employer Organization (PEO) (CPEO). Experienced, certified, and trusted. www.EmployerAdvantage.com

 

EMPLOYER AID OPPORTUNITIES | It’s Not Too Late for Businesses to Get Much-Needed Coronavirus Relief

EMPLOYER AID OPPORTUNITIES | It’s Not Too Late for Businesses to Get Much-Needed Coronavirus Relief

By Lee Allphin, Employer Advantage Founder and Chairman of the Board

As part of Employer Advantage’s comprehensive suite of HR management and outsourcing services (HR, Payroll, Health & Benefits, Safety, and more), we are assisting our clients in determining their best path during, and after, the Coronavirus pandemic. Please contact us if you would like assistance with any of your Employee Administration and Compliance responsibilities: Info@EmployerAdvantage.com | 877.476.9520

The COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be an endless sea of variant waves crashing down on businesses’ ability to stay afloat. Even employers that were able to take full advantage of the CARES Act’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which ended May 2021, are now facing various financial burdens resulting from the severity of the Delta variant. For businesses that missed or were unable to get PPP forgivable loans, this next wave could prove to be the one to capsize any chance of survival.   

Here’s What Businesses can do: 

On a federal level, the Small Business Association (SBA) is continuing to be a lifeline for businesses that know to take advantage of the many programs made available to them.

On July 27, 2021, the SBA announced it had granted 10,000 venues more than $7.5 billion through its Shuttered Venue program, which distributes grants to venues in the nation’s 50 states and U.S. territories.

According to the SBA, there is still funding available to eligible applicants:

SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET to provide technical assistance with the SVOG application portal and can be reached at 1-800-659-2955 or, for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, 1-800-877-8339.

The SBA also offers a whole host of COVID relief options that businesses can explore to determine eligibility:

SBA’s resource partners, including SCORE Mentors, Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers, are available to provide entities with individual guidance on their applications. Applicants can find a local resource partner via a zip code search at http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance.

We also highly encourage businesses to leave no stone unturned in checking with their local and state agencies to determine if any grants or funding are available to them.

Not currently an Employer Advantage client?

WE’D BE HONORED TO PROVIDE YOU WITH A NEW PATH TO HR BLISS.

We don’t just give quotes—We provide strategic business proposals.

-Free strategic assessment of your business needs

-Quick and easy account setup and seamless transitions

-Urgent requests | Please Call: Toll Free 877.476.9520

 

Click here to see our other helpful “Blog for All Employers”

About Employer Advantage

A New Path to HR Bliss – Trusted for more than 30 years, Employer Advantage frees you from the administrative and compliance burdens of having employees so you can focus on your business success. Versatile enough for companies of all sizes, our unique service combines comprehensive management of your employee administration and compliance with the latest software solutions, tailored to meet your individual needs and company culture. Our full-service management of Human Resourcespayrollhealth and benefits, workplace safety, and more enhance your profitability while reducing the costs and risks associated with employment law compliance. We provide your employees with top-notch assistance and benefits that help you increase productivity, save time and money, and attract and retain a talented workforce. And for small and mid-sized businesses, we bring you economy of scale with access to Fortune-500-level benefits, specialty assistance, and savings that would not be possible to attain on your own. Headquartered in the Midwest and serving more than 500 companies and 10,000 worksite employees throughout the country, Employer Advantage is an IRS-Certified Professional Employer Organization (PEO) (CPEO). Experienced, certified, and trusted. www.EmployerAdvantage.com

 

Visionary Concierge Testing Solutions

Industry: Healthcare
Locations: Missouri
Number of employees: 57

Challenge: New company without HR support

Client challenge (reason they wanted to talk with us or compelling event):
A new venture providing vaccination services needed an external partner to manage their HR. A week before their launched, their plans for handling HR, payroll, and workers’ compensation insurance fell through.

Employer Advantage solution (what we did to solve the problem for them):
We provided a team of professionals to create needed HR documents, policies, and procedures. Our team customized an HRIS system, procured a workers’ compensation policy, setup payroll and onboarded 50+ employees within a week.

Business impact (Think PPTLC, hard numbers are great like saved xx% in time or dollars):
The client has saved over $100,000 in salary and was able to begin operations within their original timeframe which saved their contracts worth $120,000+.

Impact to highlight:

  • Saved over $100,000 in salary
  • Allowed company to launch and fulfill $120,000+ contract

JT Septic Co.

Industry: Construction
Locations: 1
Number of employees: 17

Challenge: Poor performance of current vendor

Client challenge (reason they wanted to talk with us or compelling event):
A specialty construction company was frustrated that their current HR and payroll vendor was not providing satisfactory customer service and over charged them on payroll taxes. The company had to compile their own reporting to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and lost contracts due to the vendor’s inability to provide the reports they needed to bid on new contracts.

Employer Advantage solution (what we did to solve the problem for them):
We provided a responsive team of HR and payroll professionals to care for the company. We also handled their payroll processes through our HR management system, which gave them access to on-demand reports and transparency into their payroll taxes and our administrative fees. Ultimately, we were able to provide peace of mind that we were handling things properly.

Business impact (Think PPTLC, hard numbers are great like saved xx% in time or dollars):
We provided them access to the reports they need to bid on $50,000 in additional contracts. The company is saving $21,000 in payroll taxes on our services. Additionally, we supplied a new workers’ compensation policy that saved the company $7,000 in annual premiums.

Impact to highlight:

  • Able to bid on $50,000 in additional contracts
  • Saved $21,000 in payroll taxes and $7,000 in insurance premiums

Omni Trade

Industry: Manufacturing
Locations: Arkansas
Number of employees: 15+

Challenge: Lack of HR team

Client challenge (reason they wanted to talk with us or compelling event):
A manufacturing service company in Arkansas grew to the point that the owner’s wife was forced to start working two extra days a week to help manage HR matters. The owner was tied up with servicing existing and new contracts and no longer had time to manage safety training and OSHA regulations. Additionally, the company-provided health insurance was becoming increasingly expensive.

Employer Advantage solution (what we did to solve the problem for them):
We deployed a team of HR, payroll, safety and benefits processionals to manage the company’s administrative tasks. This allowed the owner to focus on growing his business and his wife to return to her previous preferred work schedule.

Business impact (Think PPTLC, hard numbers are great like saved xx% in time or dollars):
Our safety team provided the training needed to give peace of mind back to the owner and the employees. The owner’s wife was able to cut her work time back down to part time so she could spend more time with her children and grandchildren. Furthermore, we saved the company $8,000 a year in health insurance premiums.

Impact to highlight:

  • Saved 8,000 in health insurance premiums
  • Allowed owner and his wife to refocus on more important priorities