UBC is committed to fostering a healthy, safe, inclusive, and professional work environment.
UBC employees required to refrain from the use of psychoactive substances during or prior to their work hours, unless lawfully authorized or approved by their supervisor. A “psychoactive substance” is a substance that, when used, affects mental processes (e.g. cognitive functions). Psychoactive substances range from over-the-counter and prescription medicines, to alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.
Substance Use Support Resources for UBC Faculty and Staff
If you would like to know more about help and resources available to UBC staff and faculty, please visit our Substance Use and Addiction Support Resources page.
Job Performance & Workplace Safety
In general, employees are expected to meet job performance norms and standards in their work environment. An employee with performance restrictions is expected to inform their supervisor of these restrictions.
Examples: A dental assistant who has severe difficulty lifting and carrying heavy instrument cassettes is expected to inform their supervisor of these restrictions.
Supervisors should contact Advisory Services (staff and student appointments) or Faculty Relations (faculty appointment) for assistance in addressing (including, where appropriate, accommodating) performance restrictions.
Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that employees under their supervision understand and observe basic safety rules set out in British Columbia’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (sections 4.19 and 4.20), including the following:
1. An employee with a functional impairment that may affect their ability to work safely must inform their supervisor of the functional impairment.
Examples: A faculty member who routinely handles hazardous materials in a laboratory environment and who has severely diminished hand-grip strength and hand dexterity is expected to inform their department head of these restrictions.
2. An employee must not knowingly do work where their functional impairment may create an undue risk to themselves or others.
3. An employee must not attend work while their ability to work is affected by substance use so as to endanger the employee or anyone else.
4. An employee must not remain at work if their behaviour is affected by substance use so as to create an undue risk to other employees.
In addition, pursuant to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation:
1. supervisors must not assign work activities to an employee where the employee’s functional impairment(s) may create an undue risk to the employee or anyone else; and
2. supervisors must not knowingly permit an employee to remain at work while the employee’s ability to work is affected by substance use so as to endanger the employee or anyone else.
Employee Substance Use: Q & A
Question: What should I do if:
- I suspect that an employee under my supervision is intoxicated due to substance use?
- An employee under my supervision smells of alcohol or another psychoactive substance?
- I observe an employee who appears to be using a psychoactive substance at work?
Answer: Follow the “four As” – Assess, Ask, Act, After.
Assess. If the employee is engaging in “At-Risk Behaviour,” follow the procedures under Policy SC13 – At-Risk Behaviour (formerly Policy #14). If the employee is not engaging in “At-Risk Behaviour,” take the following steps.
Make sure to record notes of steps taken, your observations, any communication, and the reasoning behind your actions.
Assess. Make sure the employee is safe and does not require medical aid.
Ask. If the employee smells of alcohol or another psychoactive substance, ask them about the cause of the odour.
Ask. Ask the employee if they have used a psychoactive substance (e.g. alcohol, cannabis) during or prior to their work hours, and, if so, why.
Ask. Ask the employee if they are intoxicated due to substance use, and observe any symptoms of intoxication and/or resulting functional impairments.
Symptoms of intoxication and/or resulting functional impairments may vary, depending on the psychoactive substance used and other factors. Symptoms may include:
- smell of alcohol or other psychoactive substance (e.g. cannabis)
- impaired hand-eye coordination
- difficulties with walking, posture
- difficulties speaking (e.g. loudness; slurred speech; too fast; too slow)
- reduced alertness
- relatively slow or shallow breathing
- eye redness
Act. Take action that is appropriate under the circumstances:
- Impairment. The employee cannot remain at work.
- Authorized use. Under certain circumstances, you may allow the employee to remain at work.
- Unauthorized use. The employee cannot remain at work.