Weed at Work: What Employees Need to Know

Starting on January 1, 2020, the use of marijuana for recreational purposes will be legal in the state of Illinois for adults 21+. Illinois is the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana, alongside California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Colorado and Michigan.

What does this mean for employees in the workplace? We’ve got the inside scoop to help decode the new rules:

No 1.

Off-duty use of marijuana may be legal, but employers can still terminate an employee for using marijuana on-the-job or coming to work impaired. According to our research, in response to this new law, the majority of employers plan to adopt a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to marijuana use. This means handbooks and corporate policies will be changed to reflect this. Employers can observe and document any incidents where they believe an employee is impaired and can use that information to legally terminate someone. Think of the new law like alcohol – employees can’t drink on the job or come to work drunk, the same goes for marijuana.

No 2.

As an employee, you an employer have the right to contest if you feel you are disciplined for marijuana use unfairly; however, this doesn’t mean you can simply say you were under the influence and get off the hook. There will be more literature coming out on how to contest to look out for.

No 3.

If your workplace is under federal contracts, is a subcontractor for the federal government or received federal grant money, you have to comply with federal law, which counts marijuana as an illegal substance. This means you can still be subject to drug tests and may be terminated or denied employment based on those results, even if they were during off-duty hours.

No 4.

Use the 24-hour rule. Under the new law, employees cannot use marijuana less than 24 hours before a scheduled work shift.

Click here to watch our webinar for more information, which is approved for 1 SHRM PDC.
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