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If your employee tests positive for marijuana use

Employers in California have a responsibility to their employees to provide a safe workplace, but if an employee is hurt on the job, it is the workers’ compensation insurance that covers the costs related to the injury. Carrying this insurance saves a company money, but the high costs of claims may drive up the rates. This factor makes it important to ensure that worker claims are valid, and that injuries are caused by a compensable incident.

Occupational Health & Safety magazine notes that, with the changes regarding the recreational use of marijuana, employers may have some questions about their rights and responsibilities, and workers’ compensation. Although an employee may not be smoking or ingesting the drug illegally, it still creates significant hazards on the job due to its effects on the body, including problems thinking, paying attention, reacting safely and controlling movement. Employers may still perform drug tests to ensure that workers are not creating safety hazards for themselves and others on the job.

Even though under the state’s system, fault is not a factor in whether the benefits are paid to the employee, there are some exceptions that would make the worker responsible for his or her own costs. This includes whether the worker has become impaired from the use of drugs such as marijuana, or from alcohol, while on the job, according to the California Department of Human Resources. The costs associated with an injury that results while the worker is under the influence are excluded, and there would be no employer liability or insurance payments made. 

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