Tackling Opioids in the Workplace

Learn how to prepare now to avoid high risk claims later

Employers Survival Guide Series > Tackling Opioids in the Workplace

Does your employer have the right tools in place to mitigate the impact of the opioid health crisis? Not only is substance dependence affecting our personal lives, it is permeating our workplaces.

If it hasn’t affected you yet, odds are good that it will. It’s reported that 75% of adults ages 18 to 64 with substance misuse disorders are active in the workforce*. Are they your fellow coworkers?

How are you tackling the issue of opioid dependence in your workplace?

  • How has the issue affected your employer?
  • What tools, policies or systems have you put in place?

You may not be yet, but many employers are already in the trenches, fighting the battle to reduce high-risk claims while trying to help employees who are struggling with dependency. Hear from two Indiana employers who have experienced this firsthand.

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Post-Event Q&A

We know the drugs themselves aren’t the problem. Take away the heroin, people will use meth. Take away meth, people will use alcohol. Take away alcohol and it’ll be gambling, fraud, sex, social media, whatever. How do employers address the underlying root cause of addiction to help their employees?

Answer:

Robin Parsons – It is important for organizational leadership to create a culture where mental health is valued as much as physical health.  While I don’t necessarily feel it is the role of the employer to identify the root cause of any illness an employee may be facing, creating a culture that supports the employee in getting the help they needs without fear of repercussions could go a long way.

What are the steps an employer should take if they believe an employee has a problem with opioids; with a goal to protect the organization and help the employee during a difficult time?

Answer:

Emmanuel Boulukos – While there is no single pathway to addressing a potential employee substance abuse issue, the following are a few of the key issues employers should consider.

  • If an employer reasonably suspects that an employee is under the influence of opioids (or any substance) during working time, the employer may require an immediate drug and/or alcohol screen.  Any applicable policies, work rules or collective bargaining agreements (in a unionized environment) should be followed.  (Note that special legal rules apply to alcohol testing, for which *random* testing is generally not legally permitted, but testing based on a reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence (e.g, the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, impaired motor functions, etc.) *is* generally acceptable.)
  • In the case of employees in safety-sensitive positions, immediate reasonable-suspicion testing is highly advisable.  Obviously, if testing is required under the law (for example under DOT regulations), compliance is mandatory.
  • For employees who are not in safety-sensitive positions, an employer may choose to start a dialogue before ordering testing.   This can be as simple as noting changes in conduct, performance or attendance and asking, “How are you doing?”
  • If an employee tests positive on a drug or alcohol screen (other than for medication taken as prescribed), the employer generally has the option of issuing discipline, up to and including termination.  Relevant policies should be followed and applied in a consistent, non-discriminatory manner.
  • However, many employers are willing to work with employees to address substance abuse issues rather than ending the employment relationship.  Depending on the circumstances, this may involve utilizing an Employee Assistance Program, allowing a conditional return-to-work, providing leave for continuous or intermittent periods of treatment, etc.  The employee’s rights and employer’s legal obligations will vary widely depending on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, legal restrictions applicable to certain employees in safety-sensitive positions, applicable collective bargaining agreements, and the employer’s benefit plans.
  • Ideally, employers should consult with their legal counsel and HR professionals to develop policies and procedures to address these situations, and also reach out for help when a complex situation arises.  No workplace is the same, so it is important that policies take into account the type of work being performed, any potential safety issues, other security and risk management concerns, and organizational culture.

Please note that these general guidelines are provided for informational purposes only, and are not offered as legal advice.

You referenced change in workforce participation due to opioid addiction. Please expand on statistics and efforts to reverse.

Answer:

Jim McClelland – It is important for organizational leadership to create a culture where mental health is valued as much as physical health.  While I don’t necessarily feel it is the role of the employer to identify the root cause of any illness an employee may be facing, creating a culture that supports the employee in getting the help they need without fear of repercussions could go a long way.

Opioid Event 2
Opioid Event 3

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Presented by

In partnership with Wellness Council of Indiana and Indiana Workforce Recovery

THE FACTS

75% of employers say their workplace has been impacted by the opioid crisis.

Only 17% report that they feel prepared to deal with the issue.

75%

*A national survey on drug use and health conducted in 2015 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration revealed that 75% of adults ages 18 to 64 with substance misuse disorders are active in the workplace.

$2.6B

The cost of treating opioid addiction and overdose – stemming from both prescription and illicit drug use – among people with large employer coverage has increased sharply, rising to $2.6 billion in 2016, a more than nine-fold increase from 12 years earlier.

Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

7 in 10

In a National Safety Council survey, 39% of employers viewed prescription drug use as a threat to safety and just 24% said it is a problem, even though seven in 10 companies reported issues ranging from absenteeism to overdose.

WHEN

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
7:30am – 10:00am

WHERE

Meridian Hills Country Club
7099 Spring Mill Road, Indianapolis, IN 46260

Tackling Opioids in the Workplace

An Employers’ Survival Guide Discussion brought to you by Apex Benefits

 

Join Indiana Drug Czar Jim McClelland and additional clinical, legal and business leaders for a discussion regarding the scope of opioid dependency in the workplace and solutions to tackle the issue.

You may not be yet, but many employers are already in the trenches, fighting the battle to reduce high-risk claims while trying to help employees who are struggling with dependency. Hear from two Indiana employers who have experienced this firsthand.

Attend to learn more about how to navigate the personal, professional and business implications of opioid use in the workplace. Prepare now to avoid high risk claims later.

You’ll come away with:

  • Ideas for practical, applicable solutions for your workplace
  • Tips for identifying employees in need
  • Viewpoints from employers who are experiencing the crisis right now
  • Valuable peer and professional connections

AGENDA

7:30am: Registration, Breakfast and Networking

8:00am: Welcome & Keynote Address

8:45am: Panel Discussion

9:45am: Q&A

10:00am: Adjourn

Jim McClelland

Keynote Speaker

Jim McClelland

Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement for the State of Indiana

Todd Rokita

Event Host & Moderator

Todd Rokita

Apex Benefits General Counsel and VP of External Affairs

We need to pick up the pace
wherever we can
and end this crisis.

Jim McClelland

PANELISTS

Cari Morrison Bear_1

Cari Morrison Bear

Human Resources Manager
Madison Precision Products, Inc.

Jennifer Foley_1

Jennifer Foley, MS, HHP, CWPC

Director of Wellness
Merchandise Warehouse, Inc.

Robin Parsons_1

Robin Parsons, MS, LMHC, LCAC, CTRS, ADS

Chief Clinical Officer
Fairbanks Hospital

Emanual

Emmanuel (Manolis) Boulukos

Partner, Labor and Employment Group
Ice Miller LLP

Kelli Kovak_1

Kelli Kovak, RPh, MBA

Vice President Clinical Engagement
OptumRx

For more information about this event: feagan@apexbg.com

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