Workplace Impairment

Policy Number: 
Policy Responsibility: 
Vice-President, Human Resources
Board of Governors
September 26, 2019
Last Amended: 
September 26, 2019

Context / Purpose: 

The Justice Institute of British Columbia (“JIBC” or the “Institute”) has implemented this Workplace Impairment Policy (the “Policy”) to communicate its expectations for reasonable behaviour and fitness for duty as it relates to any impairing substance, condition, and/or behaviour that could impact an employee’s ability to safely perform work duties to an acceptable standard. 

JIBC promotes a workplace culture where all employees share responsibility for and are expected to take preventative measures to ensure their personal health and safety and that of those around them.

Policy Statement: 

JIBC is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment where all employees and the public are protected from potential risks and hazards resulting from impairing substances, conditions and/or behaviours on JIBC premises. 

JIBC recognizes its duty to accommodate and places priority on treatment, workplace accommodation, successful recovery of employees experiencing a current or emerging substance use disorder, and the protection of employee rights to privacy and confidentiality. 


This Policy applies to all employees on or associated with JIBC premises, including:

  • JIBC premises; and
  • Other locations or situations where employees are present in the course of their duties, are attending in a professional capacity, or are acting as representatives of JIBC. This may include, but is not limited to, the following situations:  business travel, off-site meetings, conferences, JIBC social events, or any other event or place related to employment.


Disability – Disability is a broad term encompassing impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Impairment is an issue in body function or structure. An activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action. A participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involving themselves in or coping with normal life situations. 

Duty to Accommodate – The legal principle developed under Canadian Human Rights legislation requiring an employer to work with a disabled employee to modify work duties, tasks, hours, etc., up to the point of Undue hardship, during of a period of recovery.

Employee – For the purposes of this Policy, ‘employee’ includes all full time, part time, term, casual and sessional employees, contractors, seconded, leave of absence (LOA), volunteers and employees of third-party providers performing services on JIBC premises. 

Fit for Duty / Fitness for Duty – An employee is able to perform regularly assigned duties/ responsibilities with efficiency, competence and in a safe manner as compared to established or generally-accepted performance standards. 

Illicit Substance – Any substance (including cannabis derivatives not permitted under the Cannabis Act (Canada)) not legally obtainable or obtained, or legally obtained but not being used in accordance with physician recommendations or manufacturer guidelines, or by the person for which it was intended.

Impaired – The inability to safely, competently or efficiently perform work duties without limitation resulting from use of an impairing substance, the after-effects of impairing substance use, being under the influence of an impairing substance, a medical condition, treatment or medication, or the effects of behaviour or lifestyle. Employees found to be impaired are deemed not to be Fit for Duty.

Impairing Substance – Any substance that is ingested, consumed or otherwise taken into the body that causes cognitive and/or psychomotor impairment. This includes, but is not limited to: alcohol, cannabis, illicit substances, and medication.

Impairment – The state of being impaired.

JIBC Premises – Any land, property, structures, facilities, premises, location, vehicles and equipment owned, rented, leased, operated or otherwise controlled by JIBC or any other place at, upon, from or near which employees work in the course of their duties.

Medication – A drug obtained legally, either over-the-counter or as appropriately prescribed by a registered and regulated health professional.

Mood-Altering Substances – This can be any chemical compound that affects the mind or mental processes, particularly a drug used therapeutically in psychiatry, or any of various other types of mind-altering substances such as drugs of abuse and some toxins.

Process or Behavioural Addiction – A process or behavioural addiction is defined as a compulsion to continually engage in behaviours despite the negative impact on one's health or daily life (e.g. gambling, sex).

Recreational Cannabis – Cannabis (also known as marijuana) used socially, and without medical justification, for its psychoactive effects in amounts and manner permitted under the terms of the Cannabis Act (Canada).

Substance Use Disorder – A primary, progressive, and chronic disease characterized by the regular, repetitive, habitual, compulsive, obsessive use of a substance or a combination of substances. Moderate to severe substance use disorder is characterized by a preoccupation with the substance(s), loss of control, increased tolerance to the substance(s), harmful consequences in one or more major life areas, denial and delusion.

Undue Hardship – The limit of an employer’s requirement to accommodate an employee without experiencing an unreasonable amount of impact on business functions and/or other staff. This means accommodation does not need to be provided if doing so would impose an unreasonable burden on the employer, having regard to health, safety, and/or financial considerations. 


Employee Awareness:

Employees are required to make themselves aware of all JIBC policies and procedures. Lack of awareness of this or any other JIBC policy does not excuse an employee from responsibility for their actions. 


Fitness for Duty:

Employees are prohibited from performing any work while impaired. This includes being impaired by the current or residual effects from an impairing substance, a process or behavioural addiction and/or sleep deprivation. 
It is expected that employees commence each work day fit for duty and remain that way for the duration of their work day. Prior to performing any work, employees must communicate, to their manager or immediate supervisor, any impairment that could present potential risk, limitation, restriction, and/or requirement for workplace accommodation. 

Where an employee reasonably suspects and/or observes impairment or behaviours in others that could create a risk or hazard to an employee or others, the employee is obligated to notify a manager at the first available opportunity. 


Employees are expected to responsibly use prescribed and over-the-counter medications in accordance with the physician’s or pharmacist’s instructions. Medications of concern are those that inhibit or may inhibit fitness for duty. This includes medications that may affect judgment, coordination or other senses, including drowsiness or dizziness.

In the interest of health and safety, employees who require the use of medication are expected to:

  • Verify (through their doctor, pharmacist, or other health professional) whether the medication has the potential to negatively affect safe work performance;   
  • Act responsibly; 
  • Talk to their manager or Human Resources if they become aware that the medication may impact safe work performance, or should accommodation be required; and
  • Cooperate in the accommodation process.


Prohibition Against Use on JIBC Premises:

  • JIBC prohibits the use and/or sale of illicit substances and/or other mood-altering substances and related paraphernalia on JIBC premises, except when approved for use as part of JIBC’s training programs. 
  • Under no circumstances is the legal use of recreational cannabis and/or alcohol permitted on JIBC premises. 


Loss of License or Impaired Driving Charges:

If required to operate any vehicle as part of an employee’s regular duties, employees are required to report the loss of a valid driver’s license to their manager or Human Resources immediately. In addition, employees are required to report any impaired driving charges and/or suspensions that occurred while operating a vehicle in the course of duty. Failure to disclose such occurrences will be deemed a violation of this Policy.


Policy Violations:

Policy violations will be addressed in accordance with the Workplace Impairment Response and Investigation Procedure (2312-001) and may, where permitted by applicable laws, involve searches of personal and/or JIBC property assigned to the employee.


Disclosure and Workplace Accommodation:

Employees are encouraged to communicate if they are experiencing a current or emerging substance use disorder or process or behavioural addiction. Employees who voluntarily seek accommodation or request assistance will not be disciplined solely in relation to that request. However, employees must also recognize that seeking accommodation or assistance may not, depending on the circumstances, prevent an employee from facing consequences for misconduct or continued failure to meet performance expectations.

As part of the accommodation process, employees may be required to provide documentation to confirm the nature and duration of any required accommodation. Subject to the cooperation of the employee, appropriate accommodation may be implemented when supported by medical evidence and as required under local law.

JIBC is dedicated to providing medical and rehabilitation assistance where practicable and/or where required by applicable local law. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Counseling
  • Leaves absence for treatment
  • Disability benefits
  • Workplace accommodations

Employees are encouraged to contact their manager or Human Resources to discuss accommodation options and assistance that may be available. 


Support and Accommodation:

JIBC promotes early diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders or process or behavioural addiction. Employees are urged to identify, to their manager or Human Resources, any potential workplace concerns to determine the necessity of a workplace accommodation and/or other measures to ensure their health and safety while they seek assistance. 

JIBC offers a range of supports to assist employees, including access to the Employee Assistance Program (EFAP) and/or treatment coverage under JIBC’s benefit plan. 

Employees are expected to take reasonable measures to mitigate health issue(s) which may impact their behaviour, performance, attendance, or fitness for duty. This includes remaining under the care of a recognized health professional and demonstrating commitment to a treatment program that promotes rehabilitation and sustained recovery. 


Confidentiality and Documentation:

1. All personal and medical employee information shall be kept strictly confidential by JIBC, unless otherwise authorized by law (e.g., there is deemed to be a potential for risk to self, others or the JIBC) or if disclosure is required by law.

2. JIBC recognizes the confidentiality interests and privacy rights of all parties involved in an investigation under this Policy and must protect personal information in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, subject to the exceptions thereunder.

3. JIBC may disclose information relating to allegations of a breach of this Policy in certain circumstances, including but not limited to where:

a. necessary to ensure the requirements of procedural fairness are met;

b. the sharing of personal information is necessary for the protection of the health or safety of any individual;

c. the sharing of personal information is required or authorized by law; or

d. the person the information is about has consented to the release of the personal information.

4. All persons involved in an investigation under this Policy are required to keep the allegation and information relating to the investigation confidential, and are not to disclose the allegation or information revealed to them through the investigation to others, except as may be expressly permitted or as required by law. Individuals involved in investigations should be aware that while confidentiality is expected, anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

5. All documentation related to a Decision, President’s Decision or Appeal under this Policy will be kept in the Official Student Record and stored in accordance with the Student Records Policy.

Last updated October 21, 2019