Centri’s Michael Warech Featured in NJBIZ: Testing for Marijuana Use Remains a Fraught Issue for NJ Employers

Centri’s Michael Warech, Managing Director and HR Advisory Practice Leader, is featured in a NJBIZ article: Testing for Marijuana Use Remains a Fraught Issue for NJ Employers. Within this article, Michael describes the complex and changing environment for companies that aim to improve their drug-testing policies.

As states begin to legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, while general use in the U.S. steadily increases, many businesses are beginning to reconsider their drug testing policies for job applicants. These businesses are trying to find a balance between limiting potential liability and safety issues, while also remaining competitive in a tightening talent pool.

With the goal of attracting a diverse and talented workforce, many New Jersey companies are rethinking their long-standing drug testing policies. “For good measure, you can also throw in the fact that the labor market is tight, and these well-documented talent shortages are putting these companies in situations where they’re trying to balance the need for talent while committing to maintaining a safe and engaging work environment for everybody,” Michael explains.

Michael asserts that businesses are beginning to opt for the ‘path of least exposure’, forgoing routine testing in an effort to reduce the potential liabilities of discrimination charges later down the road. According to Michael, companies are beginning to ask themselves, “Why would I do that at this point? Let’s just focus on the job performance or potential impaired job performance and save the testing for that situation.”

Despite this, drug tests remain a crucial tool to provide worker safety, especially in certain industries such as construction, manufacturing, and transportation. Michael agrees with this notion and explains where he views the line. “Now, if somebody takes a left turn or right turn off the path at work, where they’re putting the firm in jeopardy, they’re putting themselves in jeopardy, their fellow employees in jeopardy, and it looks like there’s some reasonable suspicion that somebody’s intoxicated, an employer should step in because they owe it to the employees to maintain a safe environment.” In New Jersey, a company can fire an employee for being impaired on the clock but cannot fire them for simply failing a drug test.

Out of the office, it’s a different issue. Michael believes that post-pandemic, many employers do not trust their at-home workforce. New Jersey’s regulations on drug testing and the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s (NJCRC) new interim standards for when a Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert (WIRE) is to be brought in to observe an employee’s suspected impairment are inadequate for the new form of hybrid work. The issue is whether the home is considered a workplace, and if so, what procedures are appropriate to determine whether an employee has taken an impairing substance on the job.

Finding the balance between safety and remaining competitive in today’s regulatory environment can be challenging for many organizations. At Centri, our experts carry 60+ years of experience in a variety of small, large, private, and public business settings. If your organization is looking to improve its HR effectiveness, Centri can design, develop, & implement HR/Talent programs that fulfill your human capital strategy. Contact us to learn more.

Michael Warech

Managing Director | Human Resources Advisory Practice Leader | Ph.D.

Michael is a Managing Director at Centri Business Consulting and is the leader of the firm’s Human Resources Advisory Practice. He has more than 30 years of experience designing, developing, and implementing data-driven human capital solutions that demonstrably impact an organization’s bottom line. View Michael Warech's Full Bio

About Centri Business Consulting, LLC

Centri Business Consulting provides the highest quality advisory consulting services to its clients by being reliable and responsive to their needs. Centri provides companies with the expertise they need to meet their reporting demands. Centri specializes in financial reportinginternal controlstechnical accounting researchvaluationmergers & acquisitions, and tax, CFO and HR advisory services for companies of various sizes and industries. From complex technical accounting transactions to monthly financial reporting, our professionals can offer any organization the specialized expertise and multilayered skillsets to ensure the project is completed timely and accurately.

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