Introduction of the Fitness for Work Guidelines

Date June 5, 2018
To: Employees at the University of Toronto
From: Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Vice-President, Human Resources & Equity
Re: Introduction of the Fitness for Work Guidelines


The federal government is preparing to legalize recreational cannabis in the very near future. Ontario has already passed a law that clarifies that once recreational cannabis is legal, within Ontario the consumption of cannabis will not be permitted in any workplace or public place. At U of T, that means the consumption of recreational cannabis will not be allowed in spaces including offices, classrooms, libraries, athletic facilities, and campus grounds.

The University is taking this opportunity to introduce a guideline to set expectations and clarify employee obligations in relation to impairment in the workplace.  The Fitness for Work Guideline sets out general obligations that apply to all employees (including those in supervisory and managerial positions), and specific responsibilities for those who work in safety sensitive positions.

What is The Fitness for Work Guideline?

U of T is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for employees, students, and other community members.  It is the University’s expectation that all employees be fit for duty while at work. Fitness for work means the employee is able to safely and acceptably perform assigned duties without limitation resulting from the use or after effects of intoxicants, such as cannabis, alcohol, or medications.

The Human Resources Guideline on Fitness for Work affirms employee responsibilities surrounding impairment in the workplace, imposes disclosure requirements on employees working in safety sensitive positions, and highlights the availability of accommodations and addiction/cessation support at U of T. The guideline outlines consequences of failing to follow its provisions.

What does it mean for me?

  • An employee is required to report to the workplace Fit for Work and remain Fit for Work throughout the workday.
  • A manager or supervisor also has obligations in relation to managing impairment in the workplace, including answering questions about this Guideline.
  • An employee in a safety sensitive position has a duty to disclose the use of or being under the influence of any intoxicant at the workplace, including using or being under the influence of a medication that could reasonably impact the employee’s ability to perform their duties and responsibilities. Further, an employee in a safety sensitive position has a duty to disclose a disability relating to an intoxicant that could reasonably be expected to impact the employee’s ability to remain fit for work.
  • A safety sensitive position is one in which impairment could result in direct risk of injury to any person, property (real or otherwise), or the environment. For example: operating machinery, vehicles or equipment; working with hazardous materials or in hazardous conditions; having responsibility for matters of life/death or the potential for serious harm to any person; being required to respond to human or operational emergencies; or other positions so defined by the University.
  • U of T will accommodate an employee who discloses a disability relating to intoxicants up to the point of undue hardship in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code.

In the coming months, there will be further information about this guideline provided to employees, particularly those who work in safety sensitive positions, to assist employees in understanding the roles and responsibilities they and others have with respect to the use of intoxicants in the workplace.

Please contact your Divisional HR Office or our Health & Well-Being team if you have any questions.