The passing of Question 4, which essentially legalized marijuana for recreational use for persons aged 21 and over (with certain provisions) in Massachusetts, brings a number of questions to the forefront for employers. Can employers enforce a “no marijuana smoking” policy during the workday if employees are not on company property? What about employees consuming edibles during their lunch break?
With more than two decades of experience, The HR Engineers, providers of human resource consulting and services for smaller businesses throughout New England, clear the “smoky” air and clarify workplace policies that can be enforced by employers when it comes to marijuana.
First and foremost, there are existing laws prohibiting operating while under the influence or consuming while operating any motorized form of transport or machinery, such as a motor vehicle. Additionally, wherever the smoking of tobacco is prohibited; the smoking of marijuana is prohibited. Nor, can marijuana be consumed in a public place (unless it is an approved marijuana establishment).
An employer is not required to allow or accommodate conduct in the workplace just because it is allowable by law. Similar to workplace policies regarding the consumption of alcohol, employers may enact and enforce policies limiting the consumption of marijuana by employees. This includes smoking and/or consumption of marijuana just prior to the start of the workday and during work hours, regardless of whether or not they are on company property.
The new law does not change the previously enacted law and its regulations allowing marijuana for medical use. So in this regard, employers may maintain their current policies regarding the medical use of marijuana.
“With the passage of Question 4, which regulates marijuana for recreational purposes, employers have expressed a number of concerns,” explained Denise Noble, PHR (Professional in Human Resources), the firm’s founder and senior HR Consultant. “The bottom line is – employers may enact and enforce workplace policies that limit employees’ marijuana consumption, similar to policies that limit alcohol consumption. That being said, all policies and employee handbooks must be updated with very specific language that details these rules and regulations, leaving no ‘gray areas’ or room for interpretation.”
Establishing written policies and procedures helps avoid costly disputes in the workplace. The HR Engineers help employers by working with them to ensure their HR policies and practices are clear and applied consistently. The HR Engineers’ team also works with employers to establish new policies as needed.
To arrange for a complimentary HR compliance review from The HR Engineers, contact 508-785-4950.
About The HR Engineers
The HR Engineers provide outsourced HR services to businesses with 50 or fewer employees throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Founded by Denise Noble, PHR, who has more than 20 years of human resources, accounting and business management experience, The HR Engineers provide tailored solutions to help grow and protect small businesses. From the development of Employee Handbooks, Policies and Procedures to solutions for Optimizing Employee Engagement, Management Coaching, Labor Law, Compliance and more, The HR Engineers provide expert HR solutions to meet a small business’ needs and budget. In-person consultations are offered to companies within a 50-mile radius of their office in Franklin, MA. For more information contact 508-785-4950 or visit thehrengineers.com.