The Canadian Human Rights Commission has issued a new guide which aims to help employers view substance dependence as a form of disability protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act. Employers are therefore under the obligation to accommodate and support the recovery of employees dependent on alcohol or drugs.

The publication, Impaired at work: a guide to accommodating substance dependence, was released Feb. 21. It elaborates a step-by-step approach on how an employer should deal with an employee suspected of being impaired at work. The guide explains that the employee has to participate themselves in the accommodation process and that they must take responsibility for their own recovery, with the support of the employer.

Stigma is an obstacle to recovery

"Substance dependence is a mental illness that affects some 21% of Canadians over the course of their lifetime. The stigma many face often prevent employees with substance dependence from coming forward and seeking help," says Chief Commissioner, Marie-Claude Landry. "We want employers to approach substance dependence with the same understanding and compassion that would be extended to an employee with any other illness."

The guide is now available on the Canadian Human Rights Commission's website