What are current state policies that may be influencing workplace policies? What are current state policies that may be influencing family policies?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One current state policy that has the potential to influence workplace policies is the state legalization of marijuana. Some states, like Colorado, have made it legal to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use; states like Colorado have also made medicinal uses of marijuana legal. Some may think the legalization of marijuana may make workplace drug-free policies a bit murky.

However, up to this point, workplaces in states like Colorado have been able to maintain their drug-free workplace policies. Employers still have the legal right to demand random drug tests due to federal law forbidding the use of drugs, be it alcohol or other drugs, in transportation and contracting businesses. Hence, even after certain states' legalization of marijuana, employers within the transportation and contracting industries who have fired employees for failing drug tests have been supported by law. Hence, while the new state policies legalizing marijuana use will not presently change state workplace policies within the transportation and contracting industries, they will influence workplace policies by making it necessary for workplaces to now reiterate, clarify, and enforce their drug-free policy.

However, that being said, there are some states, including Arizona, Delaware, and Minnesota, that have mandated employers to accommodate employees' legal, medical uses of marijuana, with the exception of the transportation and contracting industries, so long as the marijuana is used during private time, not at the workplace. For those states, the new state polices have certainly influenced how employers deal with employee usage of marijuana, including making it illegal for employers to either hire or fire based on known medical usage.

Other state policies that can influence workplace policies concern those being introduced to ensure that employees have more time to care for their own illnesses or any needs of their family members. One such example is the law Connecticut passed requiring businesses with 50 or more employees to pay for sick leave. It has become evident that not all businesses can afford to pay for sick leave, and the end result has been that businesses had to cut hours and other benefits offered to be able to afford to fulfill the mandate. Hence, a state policy like paid sick leave can influence workplace policies concerning numbers of guaranteed hours and offered benefits.

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