Right idea, wrong application for drug and alcohol policy

Policy addressed all forms of potential impairment but went too far in requiring medical evaluations
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 08/24/2011

A British Columbia employer’s drug and alcohol abuse policy is a good approach to dealing with a history of employee substance abuse problems, but goes too far in demanding medical examinations, the B.C. Arbitration Board has ruled.

Rio Tinto Alcan Primary Metal operated an aluminum smelter in Kitimat, B.C. The company had an occupational health department (OHD) that provided medical and health services to employees and also reviewed reports from family physicians and specialists when needed when leaves or return-to-work programs were necessary.

Rio Tinto was concerned about substance abuse by employees during work hours due to several instances in which employees were put in rehabilitation programs. Between 2004 and 2010, the company saw about 10 employees per year on average get treatment.