Best human resources practices for writing and enforcing policies in the workplace.

FMLA, parental leave and medical leave can all be options for life events

Starting and growing your family is an exciting time, and the last thing an employee should worry about is how to take time away from work for life events such as this. Employers should develop a policy before these questions arise.

It is common for employees to assume they will get a certain amount of time, either paid or unpaid, away from work. What a business is required to offer is typically dependent on its size. As an employer, you should be prepared to share this information when an employee announces they are adding another member to the family. The options include: FMLA, parental leave, medical leave or a combination.

FMLA is the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which applies to employers of 50 or more. FMLA requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of time off for the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care. FMLA protects the employee’s job and benefits but does not require an employer to pay the employee for the time they are away. If unpaid, employees may be able to use vacation/PTO time or collect from their short-term disability benefit (if applicable). FMLA applies to both parents for the purpose of bonding with the child as well as giving a mother time to recuperate from labor and delivery. FMLA is clearly outlined for employers and can be found online here:

The term “maternity leave” was commonly used to describe the time a mother needed off after the birth of a child. The term is outdated, as an employer cannot discriminate against the other parent for the purposes of taking time off. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) also requires pregnancy to be handled as if it were like any other medical leave.

The compromise and appropriate nomenclature is “parental leave,” which is a set period of time an employer allows an employee to be off work for the birth or placement of a child. It is simply describing a period of time, not the medical needs for a woman to be off following labor and delivery. A parental leave may include wage replacement, such as paying part or all of the employee’s wages while off work, or it may be unpaid. Just like FMLA, a parental leave is not required to be paid, but some employers may choose to do so.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled in favor of a new father in a case of parental leave discrimination. This new dad received a $1.1M settlement, and not giving new fathers the same type of leave as new mothers to bond with a child can result in a claim such as this.

Medical leave allows for an employee to be off work for a medical condition. This includes time off after childbirth for a woman who had a baby. Labor and delivery would fall under a medical leave policy, but bonding time is not. The woman’s doctor provides information about the length of time a patient needs to be off of work and this would be handled in the same fashion as an employee undergoing major surgery who is off due to a doctor’s order. Employers may choose to have a medical leave policy instead of offering parental leave, or they may have both.

FMLA is the set of federal regulations, but an employer can always choose to be more generous. If your Medical Leave Policy goes above and beyond FMLA, then your handbook can include just the Medical Leave Policy on its own and not include a separate FMLA policy.

It is surprisingly more complicated when an employer isn’t required to follow a federal regulation and if they also don’t have a policy in place. In these cases, employees in similar situations may, unintentionally, be treated differently. That is considered discriminatory, which is why it is imperative to create a policy and follow it. Having a policy also avoids an awkward conversation when an employee approaches an employer with a leave request.

BCN handles all types of employee leaves for its clients and can assist in policy creation. Please talk to your Human Resources representative and let them know if you have any questions about the types of leaves listed above or any other type of employment leave.



Kari Stanley, HR Customer Call Center Supervisor



Take care when implementing workplace English-language policies

Use caution when adopting “English only” language policies in your workplace. Employers that want to implement a language policy should be prepared to provide evidence that its purpose is more than a personal preference on the part of the manager or business owner.

Although there are certainly situations in which employers may appropriately require that employees know and speak English, employers could run afoul of the law by applying a blanket policy.

Written and spoken business communications and giving or understanding instructions are certainly business reasons to require an employee to use English. However, requiring employees to only use English in the workplace could be deemed a discriminatory practice if employees are asked to refrain from speaking another language during breaks or when having a one-on-one conversation with an individual who speaks another language.

Below are a few examples where an English-only language policy could face a legal challenge:

  • Two employees pass each other in the hallway during the business day. They stop and share a brief exchange in a language other than English.
  • A small group of women eat lunch together in the breakroom and speak Farsi exclusively.
  • An English fluency test is given to all employees regardless of whether their position is in Accounting, Customer Service or Housekeeping.

Even if there is a need for an English-only rule, an employer may not discipline an employee for violating the rule unless the employer has notified workers about the rule, and explained it as well as the consequences for violating it.

This is true of almost all company policies, so employers should be sure that their workplace policies and rules are clearly communicated to employers through an Employee Handbook or other formal company communication.

Do you need to discuss a language policy or other HR matter for your business? Do you have questions about how to handle a particular situation? Contact the experts at BCN Services and we can help you through that process. Call 800-891-9911 or email


Sue Kester, Human Resources Manager

Documenting employee performance is a valuable management tool

How many times are we asked to recall a specific situation from a month or two ago, and just can’t remember the details?  It seemed so significant at the time and we thought, “I’ll remember this.”  If only we had jotted down some notes…

Most of the time, you can just say, “Oh well,” and move on.  But what if it’s related to an employment situation and the information is important?

I think most managers can relate to this:  You think the discussion you had with an employee last week won’t become an ongoing issue, so you walk away without documenting the discussion.  When the employee shows a lack of improvement, you talk with them again thinking, perhaps, they didn’t understand you the first time.  Another couple of weeks goes by and the situation still hasn’t improved.  You don’t have time to address the issue beyond a quick discussion, so you talk to the employee, yet again.

You have talked to this employee three times now and things are getting worse.  You’ve given the employee plenty of opportunity to improve and now you want to terminate them for poor performance.

If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen

But there is nothing in writing. And without that documentation, regulatory agencies and unemployment judges often decide that the employer hasn’t done due diligence and rule in favor of the employee.  The perception of objective decision-makers is this: If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen.

Documentation is a valuable tool for managers in a variety of situations. It can be notes a manager keeps about specific situations, positive or negative, including details about actions, dates, times and outcomes.  This is a great way to prepare for regular performance reviews or to establish a written basis for a decision about which employee is best qualified for a promotion.  Documentation over a long time period is especially helpful in those situations, as a manager can look back at trends showing whether or not each candidate would be a good fit for the new position.

In a situation where an employee isn’t meeting behavior or performance standards required for the position, those notes may become documentation of verbal warnings, written warnings, suspensions or terminations, typically in that order.  That stepped process is designed to guide the employee in maintaining their employment or advancing their career.  When the employee doesn’t embrace that guidance, the written documentation is in place to be the basis (and later, a company’s defense) for an employment decision.

Burden of proof is on the employee, so details help

That said, as a manager you probably know that even the best-documented situation may not deter an employee from claiming unemployment or filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  Specifics of times and dates for behaviors that lead to employment decisions, along with appropriate, progressive disciplining are keys to defending employment decisions in those situations as well.  Most of the time, the burden of proof is on the employer and all of those details help.

Consistent documentation helps managers to remember what has happened and attach times, dates and other details to a situation that you might not remember accurately.  Whether it’s time to make an employment decision (such as a raise, a promotion, or a disciplinary action) or to defend it, documentation can help you remember the important details that need to be included to help others understand the reason for the employment action.

If you need help documenting your workplace situations or suggestions for your managers, contact the experts at BCN Services. We are here to help.


Trisha Crigger, Human Resources Generalist

Workplace dress code policy can address rules for tattoos

Maintaining professionalism in the workplace is important, but tattoos don’t necessarily take away from that. As tattoos gain popularity across society, acceptance in the workplace is changing.

An article from USA Today, “Workplace Tattoo Taboos Fading,” states that there are three underlying concerns employers have with hiring people with body art:

  • the belief that an employee will not be taken seriously by tradition-minded clients,
  • the concern that the organization’s brand or image might be compromised by outlandish tattoos, and
  • the concern that one person’s body art could be perceived as offensive or hostile to a co-worker or customer.

When discussing body art in the workplace, keep in mind that you are hiring someone based on education, experience and skill. You are hiring this person because they are qualified for the job, not for their appearance.

Some important considerations are: Will visible tattoos affect the work environment? Do our employees see any clients or customers during the work day when appearance may play a part in customer service? Will tattoos be distracting in the workplace or disrupt the work flow?

In some cases, applicants may hide body art that may prevent them from getting a position and then reveal the tattoo or piercing once on the job. You may be able to avoid an issue by taking the opportunity during the interview to discuss company policies and dress code standards that are important if you offer a candidate a position. It may even be significant to share these company standards in the job posting itself. Sharing these policies as early as the job posting could save the company time and weed out applicants that don’t meet your dress code standards.

If it is imperative to your company that tattoos and piercings cannot be visible, you should review your employee handbook to ensure that policies are in place to explain dress code and appearance while on the job. It is important to be specific in the policy if you don’t allow visible body art.

To discuss employee handbook policies and other guidelines, please contact your Human Resources professional at BCN Services 800-891-9911.


Hayley Diehlman, HR Administrator

Time to take a fresh look at preventing harassment in your workplace

The “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements have garnered attention in the media, the legal community, the workplace and the agencies who protect our workplaces. There is a new culture beginning to emerge in the era of “Me Too” and “Time’s Up.” How should employers respond?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports increased inquiries about potential sexual harassment claims and the agency is prepping its investigators through intense training and education for a rise in complaints.  The legal community, for its part, reports an uptick in expectations and ever-increasing settlement demands.  There is a lower standard emerging for what constitutes pervasive harassing behavior.  Changes in legislation are anticipated to impact confidentiality agreements and business expense liability.  Both entities agree: It is time for employers to make meaningful cultural change and approach harassment prevention in a whole new fashion.

First, employers should focus on preventing all types of harassment including sexual harassment and harassment based on any protected characteristic such as gender, national origin, race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, genetics, military status, disability, etc.  Address the behavior before it escalates and consider behavior such as rudeness and incivility which leads to bullying and, left unchecked, leads to more pervasive, harassing behavior.

In other words, foster a work environment that is positive, comfortable and respectful.  To do so, take aim at these areas:

  • Leadership and Accountability: Establish a culture of respect in which harassment is not tolerated and make a commitment to assess harassment risk factors and take steps to minimize risks.  Allocate resources and time to a harassment prevention program and train mid-level managers and front-line supervisors to prevent and/or respond to workplace harassment.  Invest in best-practice preventive measures such as workplace climate surveys, training regarding civility in the workplace and bystander intervention training.
  • Anti-Harassment Policy: Establish a policy that is easy to understand, regularly communicated, and clearly states harassment of any type will not be tolerated.  It should be written in clear, simple words and in all languages used by members of the workforce.  A comprehensive policy will include:
    • A written description of prohibited conduct including examples.
    • A reporting system for those who experience or observe harassment. The reporting system must provide a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation.
    • A statement that identities of all (claimant, witness or target of the complaint) will be kept confidential to the extent possible.
    • A statement that any information gathered will be kept confidential to the extent possible.
    • An assurance that the employer will take immediate and appropriate corrective action if harassment has occurred.
    • A statement that retaliation against an individual who reports a claim or cooperates will not be tolerated and will be appropriately disciplined.
  • Complaint Procedure and Reporting System: This procedure should be available to employees whether they experience harassment or observe it. There should be multiple, readily accessible reporting channels. Employer representatives must be trained to: take reports seriously; conduct objective, neutral, thorough investigations; provide timely responses; protect the privacy of individuals to the extent possible; document all steps taken; take appropriate discipline action as warranted; and provide a reporting mechanism for individuals should they experience retaliation.
  • Investigation Procedure: Establish a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation protocol. Once an employer has knowledge of a complaint, an investigation must take place. This should include:
    • Meeting the minimum standard of the anti-harassment policy. Do what it says or more.
    • Identify who will conduct the investigation. More than one investigator is preferred.
    • In all cases, as information is gathered: Listen and document.  Offer assurance of non-retaliation.  Do not guarantee anonymity, but rather maintain confidentiality to the extent possible.
    • Gather information from the complainant, witnesses and from the accused.
    • Conduct an impartial review of findings and take appropriate corrective action if harassment occurred.
    • Communicate the determination of the investigation to all parties.
  • Training for Compliance: Establish a harassment prevention training program which provides bystander intervention techniques to teach people what they can say, and what to steps to take if harassment happens to them. A meaningful program will go beyond the legalese to focus on behaviors and non-verbal cues, encourage civility the workplace by stopping harassment where it starts, and promote a workplace culture that is positive, comfortable and respectful.  Harassment prevention training should include:
    • Examples tailored to the specific workplace and workforce.
    • Education for employees about their rights and responsibilities.
    • Using simple terms, a description of the reporting system.
    • An explanation of the consequences of unacceptable workplace conduct.
    • Encouraging managers and supervisors to practice situational awareness and address risk factors such as rudeness, incivility and bullying before the situation escalates to harassment.

Do you need help formulating a policy or taking action in workplace? Contact your HR specialists at BCN Services. We can help you begin the process for your company.


Susan Price, Strategic Services Manager

No desk? No problem! It’s possible to create and maintain a deskless workforce

For many Baby N=Boomers or Gen X’ers, the concept of a deskless work environment seems implausible.  But many can, and have, embraced the concept.  But overall, it’s Millennials that have made the remote and deskless workforce a success.  And it’s the Millennial and Gen Z generations that will continue to elicit changes in how they work.

Technology is something anyone can keep up with and use to its full potential.  As technological advances continually reshape the workforce, younger generations will reap the most rewards.  They are more motivated to keep up with trends in technology and how it interacts with their current position within their company and how it will affect their futures.

What is a deskless workplace?  It’s giving your employees the tools they need to complete their jobs from anywhere, at any time.  With cell phone and tablet advancements, employees can complete work from home, from a favorite coffee shop, or in the breakroom or lounge area within your office space.  It means not being tethered to a desk and a desktop computer to complete day–o-day functions.  As the need for fluidity and flexibility grows, employers should consider evolving and embracing the deskless workplace potential.

Providing employees with access to company e-mail, shared drives and training materials in an electronic format can increase production and flexibility.  Employees who are used to sitting on their couch watching TV and working from their tablet at home will welcome a work environment that provides the same level of comfort.  If possible, create a seating environment with couches, chairs, coffee tables or stoops within the office to foster employee comfort and production.  A well-lit counter with accessible electrical and USB outlets is another example of creating a tech friendly and fluid workplace.  You may also see collaboration and brainstorming increase as employees interact with each other in an open environment as opposed to being limited to a cubicle or office.

Attracting and retaining talent may also create the need for deskless work access.  Many employees see the ability to work remotely, either within the office or out, as a benefit.  Retention can also increase in instances where an employee must move out of the area for any given reason.  Instead of hiring and training a new person which takes resources and time, allow the employee to work remotely as an option.

If exploring this, keep in mind some drawbacks to the concept.  One of the growing issues with is too much work.  Employees may sometimes feel the need to be constantly “plugged in” and may spend too much of their down time with their minds on work.  That is not a healthy mindset and can create additional stress and anxiety.  Be conscious of how much work your employees are putting in outside of the office.

Another consideration is your hourly staff.  Hourly employees that check their emails and do work from home need to be compensated for their time.  Set strict guidelines about how and when hourly employees can complete work functions while not punched in at the office.  Be sure to provide the employee a way to track their time, whether they are punching in remotely to a timekeeping system, or logging time spent working away from the office.

Be sure, when possible, to have your employees interact with other employees whether at mandatory meeting and trainings, or regular phone or video conferencing to foster relationships and partnerships within the company.  It’s important for your employees to feel tied to the company’s goals and work with other team members helps create that sense of inclusion.

Lastly, if sensitive information is accessible to your employees such Social Security numbers, credit card information or company proprietary information, be sure to train your employees on concealing their screens from watchful eyes, or locking their computer when not using it.  Business needs are forever evolving as technology and accessibility continues to skyrocket.  It’s a good idea to change with the times and take advantage of proven trends to maximize potential for your company and your employees.

As always, please contact BCN Services Human Resources Department with any questions or guidance needed.


Frank Lewandowski, Benefits Program Manager

Developing the best formula for happiness in the workplace

I was reading some marketing articles over the weekend and came across an article about “Happiness in the Workplace”.   Skimming it briefly, I didn’t see much in value for my marketing endeavors but then I came across another article on the same topic.

So it gave me pause. What is happiness in the workplace anyway?  It sounds a little ambiguous to me since “happy” is a relative term and can change from day-to-day.  After reading the article more in-depth, the point became clear: Happiness is really more of a choice than a feeling.  It’s an action.  I also think that the more engaged you are at your job the “happier” you are.

A happy person is also contagious.  If you work around people who always complain, the natural effect is to start looking at your work world a little more negatively.  But if you are surrounded by happy, positive people, you tend to see your environment in that way as well.

In the article “15 Proven Tips to Be Happy at Work,” John Rampton offers these tips that are worth repeating.  I picked my top 10 and expounded on them.

  1. Have a sense of meaning. Think about what your role is in your company. How are you impacting those around you?  Your clients, your co-workers, the UPS person.  You may dislike parts of your job, but they have meaning.  Your role can influence others and you may not even know it.
  2. Create an office nest. The environment that we create around us is so important in how we view ourselves. Pictures of people and phrases that are important to you or motivate you can be a reminder of why you do what you do.
  3. Smile– So simple, so easy — makes a difference J
  4. Be future-oriented.– Do you have goals? Does your company have goals?  If you keep those goals in front of you, your perspective will change as you go about your day.  Take time during each week to consider these goals and how you and your company are working towards them.
  5. Say “thank you.”– This is something so simple to do and it will impact those around you.
  6. Take a breather.– Taking time away from the office and daily stresses can help. We can recharge ourselves both mentally and physically by just taking a little time for ourselves.
  7. Eat healthy & stay hydrated.- Taking care of yourself can impact your life in subtle ways. Our concentration improves.  When we feel good physically, it makes an impact on our mental state and thus the result is “happy.”
  8. Accept people for who they are.– We are all different.  No one thinks exactly like you.  This is a great thing.  When we can embrace this concept and accept this you will naturally become happier.  Realize that you cannot change people.
  9. Reward yourself.- You work hard. Sometimes just a little reward for that work can change your perspective.  If you had a hard week or a big goal was met at the office, reward yourself with a nice dinner out or purchase that new gadget you have been wanting.
  10. Reflect- Why do you do what you do? Take time to evaluate what you do, why you do it and what brought you to this career path.  Reflection is a reminder that what you do is for a purpose. it may refocus you and the result is happiness.

While these tips seem basic, it is important to remember that we are all responsible for ourselves and how we interact day-to-day with our coworkers. If you are a leader in your organization, putting some of these tips into practice will transfer to your staff.  When employees see their managers and coworkers happier, they will naturally strive towards the same.


Wendy Allen, Marketing Manager

When can you dock a salaried employee’s pay?

Docking an exempt or salaried employee’s pay is only allowed in certain circumstances.

Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not permit deductions from exempt employees. According to the regulations, the amount of money a salaried employee earns isn’t dependent on the number of days or hours he or she works. You also can’t deduct money based on the quantity or quality of work the employee produces.

However, there are some exceptions to the rule:

  • Exempt employees do not need to be paid for any workweek in which they perform no work.
  • Deductions may be made for exempt employees who are absent for a day or more for personal reasons other than sickness or accident. (Deductions must be made in full-day increments, not for partial-day absences.)
  • Deductions may be made for exempt employee absences of one day or more caused by sickness or disability, if the company maintains a plan that compensates for loss of salary caused by sickness and disability and the employee has exhausted his or her “bank” of leave.
  • Deductions may be made for penalties imposed for safety rules violation of major significance
  • Amounts received by an employee for jury or witness fees or military pay may be offset. Beyond those offsets, deductions may not be made for absences caused by employee jury duty, attendance as a witness or temporary military leave.
  • Deductions may be made for unpaid disciplinary suspensions of one or more full days for breaking workplace conduct rules.
  • Payment may be adjusted for partial weeks worked during the initial or final weeks of employment. For example, if Joe resigns in the middle of a workweek, pay him only for the days actually worked in that week.
  • In some cases, when a salaried/exempt employee has worked a reduced or intermittent work schedule under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),pay may be adjusted. (You can convert a salaried employee to an hourly rate during the time he or she is on intermittent or a reduced workweek FMLA leave without destroying the person’s exempt status.

If your company inadvertently makes an improper deduction, it must be corrected immediately to avoid penalties.  If an employer is found to be “intentionally” engaging in improper pay docking, they will lose the overtime exemption for the pay period the docking occurred for other employees working in the same job classification for the same manager responsible for the deduction.

This means that the employer must pay normally exempt workers overtime wages if their hours exceed 40 hours for one work week.

If you are not sure when to dock a salaried employee’s pay or have questions regarding pay practices, please contact your BCN Services specialist for guidance.

List of permitted deduction courtesy of TrackSmart


Lisandra Garrow, Partnership Manager

Accommodating fragrance sensitivities in the workplace

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed suit against an employer for its failure to accommodate an employee with fragrance sensitivities.   The lawsuit in North Carolina alleges the employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In its complaint, the EEOC claims that the employee’s supervisor ignored an employee’s multiple requests to telecommute as a means to avoid fragrances in the workplace which worsened her asthma and COPD.   The EEOC argues that the employer had a responsibility to individually assess the requested accommodation before refusing it.  If this case sounds familiar, it’s because it is.

In 2016, a court ruled that fragrance sensitivity is a disability under ADA because, in that case, it compromised the major life activity of breathing (McBride v. the City of Detroit).  Furthermore, the court ruled that the employer should have first engaged in an interactive process to identify a reasonable accommodation before denying the accommodation request outright.  The takeaway message is clear.

The use of fragrance in products is on the rise and, not surprisingly, so are a growing number of requests for accommodating it.  Employers must be ready to respond and understanding when to initiate the interactive process and consider accommodation options is key to a successful outcome.

Fragrance sensitivity is best described as either an irritant or allergic reaction to a chemical in a product or may also be referred to as chemical sensitivity.  Common allergic reactions to exposure may include headaches or migraines, worsening of respiratory issues such as asthma or COPD, and skin irritations such as contact dermatitis or hives.  Repeated exposure over time may trigger or intensify these reactions or symptoms.

A first step for employers is recognizing that fragrance sensitivities and symptoms vary by individual and an accommodation must be tailored to that employee.  Start by consulting with the employee to identify a reasonable accommodation.  This critical step begins the interactive process.

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) offers three primary options to consider as accommodations:

  • Remove the offending fragrance when possible.  For example, discontinuing the use of air fresheners and using unscented cleaning products.  Educating employees about fragrance sensitivities and asking for cooperation to voluntarily refrain from fragrance use.  Giving consideration to adopting a fragrance free work environment or fragrance free work zones.
  • Remove the employee from the area where the fragrances are located.  For example, a different workspace, private office or telecommuting.
  • Reduce the employee’s exposure to the fragrances to an acceptable level. For example, a private office with its own ventilation and minimum exposure to others.

Other accommodation ideas:

  • Maintain good indoor air quality
  • Use only unscented cleaning products and soaps
  • Provide scent-free meeting rooms and restrooms
  • Modify an employee’s workstation location, as needed, and modify the work schedule
  • Allow for fresh air breaks
  • Provide an air purification system designed specifically for the irritant in question
  • Modify or create a fragrance-free work place policy
  • Have a policy to allow telecommuting or home office work to help an employee avoid the problem fragrance

Employers must be aware of any employee fragrance sensitivities and be prepared to take action if a problem arises. If you have questions about how to deal with this situation in your workplace, reach out to your BCN Services specialist for help.


Susan Price, Strategic Services Manager

Opioids and the workplace: How should employers handle abuse or other issues?

It is hard to escape the headlines about America’s opioid crisis: A new viral video seems to circulate on a daily basis, celebrities tragically dying from overdoses and staggering statistics on overuse of the drugs.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), physician prescribing continues to fuel the epidemic, as nearly half of the 33,000 opioid overdose deaths per year involve a prescription.  Examples of common opioid drugs include: OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Demerol, Vicodin and their generic counterparts, as well as the street drug heroin.

As a business owner or Human Resources leader, you may have taken notice of this, or perhaps been affected in your workplace.  A survey completed this year by the National Safety Council of 501 HR decision makers found that 71 percent of employers have seen direct effects of prescription drug misuse, most notably opioids.  Of those individuals, 29 percent cited impaired or decreased job performance and 15 percent stated the drugs have caused a workplace injury or near-injuries. Alarmingly, 10 percent reported having a worker overdose from opioids on or off the job.

This same survey found that only 19 percent of employers feel well prepared to handle an opioid-related situation with an employee.  Many cite their fears of violating an employment-related law such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the drugs are legally prescribed.  =

Following are guidelines for protecting your business in these types of situations:

  • Understand that if an employee tests positive for an opioid on a drug test, the drug may have been prescribed for a protected reason covered by the ADA. Where your first reaction may be to discipline or fire the employee, you may be required to engage in the interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation can be provided.
  • Supervisors should be trained to recognize the signs of impairment. They should also be trained on the company drug-testing policy for reasonable suspicion and how the ADA could overlap.
  • Work closely with your human resource providers, healthcare benefits providers and workers’ compensation carriers to educate employees on the risks associated with opioid prescriptions and to make them aware of their options for confidential access to help and treatment.

BCN Services is here to assist you in determining if an employee is covered by the ADA, designing a compliant drug test policy and training for supervisors and employees.  If you have questions, please contact us at 1-800-891-9911.


Alicia Freeman, Operations Manager