Sunday, March 12, 2017


Dr. Ray Baker and I got into a bit of a debate over the last post here about Human Rights vs. Public Safety. 

Because he was part of the team who developed the new IMPAIRED AT WORK protocol for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, I asked him the following:

Can an employee who appears to be impaired during his/her duties be removed for the next 24 hours?

I think this is the case in the airlines and I think the Americans are tougher than we are, yes?

His answer:

It comes down to a case of human rights vs. safety. If safety is a factor than it always trumps the individualy worker’s rights.

So, yup, safety sensitive workers ( vehicle operators, equipment operators, people who perform functions who when they mess up might hurt somebody else) or highly responsible (teachers, doctors) personnel MUST be immediately removed from the safety sensitive task if impairment is suspected.  To not do so is both a criminal and WCB offence.

Usually when they are removed, they may be sent for some sort of brief evaluation to determine the cause of impairment.  Sometimes it’s drug testing, but sometimes its a more thorough occupational medical evaluation. Then they can’t go back to work until/unless found medically fit.  Sometimes that means a treatment program followed by a period of monitoring.

Which he followed by adding:

The neat thing about this approach is this:

If a lousy employee with bad attitude is impaired at work or if he/she demonstrates unacceptable attendance, performance or behaviour, then the employer may discipline them up to firing them (just cause)

But if the employee can demonstrate a disability or disorder that could account for the impairment/attendance/performance/behaviour, then the employer is forced to “accommodate them”

But built into this is the obligation for the bad employee to:

1. undergo diagnostic evaluation and treatment planning
2. demonstrate compliance with the treatment plan
3. continue to demonstrate ongoing compliance with a continuing care plan in the case of a chronic condition with relapse potential

so either way you got them: either the employer gets back an improved worker
or the worker continues on their path and the employer will be allowed to get rid of them

Get well or get gone.

Works like a hot damn.

And I know more than a few people who are now in good recovery because their employer finally grew a spine and fired them.  That was enough of a ‘bottom’ for them to do what only they can do and seek help

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