Public Service Commission Policies

Workplace Impairment



To provide guidance and direction on the handling of situations in which an employee is suspected of impairment or not being fit for duty.

Policy Statement

The Manitoba government is committed to providing a safe and productive workplace. This duty includes addressing any issues that may impair an employee's ability to perform their work functions safely and effectively. All parties in the workplace, both employees and employers, are responsible to ensure adherence to safe work practices and procedures in accordance with The Workplace Safety and Health Act, and that the workplace is not only safe for themselves, but for their co-workers and the general public.

This policy is not to replace, but rather complement existing legislation, policies and guidelines. Employees are expected to follow all other government directives, including any policies, codes or mandates that affect the unique responsibilities of their position and specific department.

Employees must report and remain free from impairment during their entire work shift, including while on standby duty, and be able to perform their duties safely, productively and to established standards, free from impairment.

Certain substances can cause impairment. Impairment can have many causes, but for the purposes of this policy, impairment will focus on impairment caused by the legal or illegal use of prescription, non-medical or any other substance.

The employer has the right to assess if an employee should remain at the workplace or perform work whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that they are impaired. The employee's fitness for work, the safety and well-being of others, and whether the employee is presentable or otherwise conducting themselves appropriately may be considered.

In addition, the employer has the right to require employees to undergo drug and/or alcohol testing if an employee works in an inherently dangerous work environment or in a safety-sensitive position under the following circumstances:

  1. Where there are reasonable grounds to consider that the employee may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  2. Where an employee has been involved in an accident/safety-involved incident.
  3. As part of a return to work agreement negotiated with a union.

These circumstances should be reviewed with Workforce Relations Division.

Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that an employee is in violation of this policy, the employer may investigate and may, if illegal acts may have occurred, involve law enforcement authorities.

There is zero tolerance for possession, use or sale of illegal substances.


Employees may possess and personally use prescribed and over-the-counter medication while in the workplace or on government time, but must advise management where use of such substances may cause impairment, which could affect safety and performance. Where such impairment may occur, the employee must immediately advise their appropriate supervisor. In the event of such impairment, the employer will consider whether it can accommodate the employee up to the point of undue hardship.

Legal Non-Medical Substances (i.e. Alcohol/Cannabis)

While alcohol and cannabis products are legal to purchase, discretion must be used with respect to possessing or storing such substances in the workplace. The employing authority has the right to prohibit the possession and/or storage of alcohol or cannabis products in the workplace.

The employer recognizes that treatment programs are available for addictions to alcohol and/or drugs. Subject to employing authority approval, an employee may be granted available sick leave to pursue treatment that involves time away from work for participation in residential, in-patient or out-patient services. Certain other short-term workplace accommodations may be considered in order to support the employee's return to performing the full range of duties of their position. The Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is one resource available to employees.


In consideration of a safe and productive workplace for all, the policy objectives are as follows:

  • To protect the safety and health of employees and other persons by minimizing risks in the workplace caused by substances that may cause impairment.
  • To make employees and supervisors aware of and understand the requirements and expectations around impairment as a potential workplace hazard and that all employees are fit for duty.
  • To provide supervisors with the knowledge, tools and supports to address situations confidentially and promptly where there may be concerns about an individual's ability to perform their job in a safe and productive manner.


In accordance with The Workplace Safety and Health Act, all employees must adhere to safe work practices and procedures to ensure a safe workplace.

In accordance with The Public Service Act and the Manitoba Government Code of Conduct, employees must conduct themselves in a manner that upholds public trust and is consistent with the values for an ethical public service, which includes attending to work fit for duty.



This policy applies to employees of the core public service, employees for the officers of the Legislature (Section 58(1) 58(2) The Public Service Act) and political staff (Section 6.5(1) (c) Public Service Regulation).




  • Report for work fit for duty and remain in such a condition for the duration of their shift, including while on standby duty.
  • When off duty, refuse a request to come into work if unfit for duty.
  • Notify their supervisor if they may have impairment for any reason or are not fit for duty.
  • Consult with their physician or pharmacist about possible side effects of using prescribed or over-the-counter medication.
  • If it is an inherently dangerous work environment or in a safety-sensitive position, advise their supervisor if they become aware of possible impairment as a side effect of medication, or if they feel impaired by medication that may affect their judgement, performance or ability to work in a safe and healthy manner.
  • As necessary, disclose any accommodation needs to the best of their ability.
  • Advise their supervisor if they reasonably believe that another person at the workplace may be exhibiting signs of impairment and/or not fit for duty.


  • Ensure that all of their employees work in a productive, safe and healthy environment.
  • Take immediate and appropriate action to investigate and manage all incidents of suspected impairment or where an employee is showing signs that they are not fit for duty. This includes incidents reported to them or observed by them.
  • Have timely conversations with employees if they show signs of suspected impairment and/or are showing signs that they are not fit for duty.
  • Identify concerns about an employee's performance or behavior.
  • Consult with Human Resources on options to consider regarding suspected or reported allegations of impairment and, as necessary, the duty to accommodate.
  • Maintain confidentiality of information and outcomes generated from an investigation, including referral to organizational supports.
  • Inform employee of accommodation policies and of organizational supports such as EFAP.
  • Allow the employee to involve their union or an employee representative in discussions.
  • Document any incident and how it was addressed and continue to monitor and assess post incident as required.
  • Ensure all employees within their area of responsibility have been provided with education and resources as required (e.g. EFAP, workshops, external resources).

Employing Authority (Deputy Minister or designate)

  • Responsible for the department's workforce management including overseeing the attendance, conduct and performance of the department's employees (S. 27(1) Public Service Act).
  • Ensure that this policy is communicated to and adhered to by all employees within their department.

Human Resource Practitioners

  • Ensure that this policy is implemented fairly across departments by providing support to employees and supervisors as required.
  • Assist with identifying workplace accommodations.
  • Follow appropriate protocols in response to any circumstances involving the contravention of this policy.
  • Provide information and resources to support employees who may be impacted by impairment (e.g. EFAP, workshops, external resources).
  • Consult with Workforce Relations Division as required.



Department: means a department as defined in The Executive Government Organization Act.

Deputy Minister: means the deputy minister of a department appointed under subsection 33(2) of The Public Service Act.

Employee: as defined in The Public Service Act, means an individual employed in the public service and, unless otherwise indicated, includes a manager or executive.

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a voluntary, confidential, short term counselling service. The purpose of this program is to help employees and their families with problems that have an impact on their home or work life. The EFAP is supported by both the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union and the Manitoba government.

Fit for Duty: an employee's ability to perform assigned duties and responsibilities in a condition free from impairment, and be able to perform their duties safely and to established standards. Being fit for duty also means being presentable (e.g. must not smell of alcohol or cannabis), and conducting oneself in a manner that upholds public trust and is consistent with the Manitoba Government Code of Conduct.

Impairment:  refers to diminished capacity caused by the legal or illegal use of prescription, non-medical or any other substance.  

Safety- Sensitive Positions: Organizations or positions where impaired employee performance could result in a significant incident affecting the health and safety of the individual, other employees, customers or the public, or could cause property damage.
When determining whether a position is safety-sensitive, the employer should consider the nature of the work, the particular workplace and the employee's direct involvement in a high-risk operation or in high-risk decision-making.

Supervisor: means an employee, including managers or executives, responsible for supervising one or more employees.

Workplace: as defined in The Workplace Safety and Health Act, means any building, site, workshop, structure, mine, mobile vehicle, or any other premises or location whether indoors or outdoors in which one or more workers, or self-employed persons, are engaged in work or have worked.



Any breach of this policy may result in discipline, up to and including dismissal.


Review Process

Deputy Ministers are responsible for adhering to this policy within their organizations and for ensuring that any violations of the policy are addressed.

The Public Service Commission may review and investigate breaches of the Public Service Act, the code of conduct or a workforce management policy.


Related Policies

Reasonable Accommodation Policy
Respectful Workplace and Harassment Prevention Policy

Resources and Tools

SAFE Work Manitoba - Impairment
SAFE Work Manitoba – Bulletin 231: Worker Rights and Responsibilities


This policy should be read in the context of the following and any other applicable legislation:

The Public Service Act
Public Service Regulation
Manitoba Government Code of Conduct
Oath or Affirmation of Office Regulation
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA)
The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA)
The Workplace Safety and Health Act
Workplace Safety and Health Regulation
Manitoba Government Employees' Master Agreement (GEMA)

Policy Review and Revision Schedule

A review will be conducted on the administration and operation of this policy, including any related procedural documents and forms, in accordance with a policy review schedule established by the Public Service Commission.

Policy Inquiries

For further information or questions about this policy, please contact:
Public Service Commission
Phone: 204-945-2332
Toll Free: 1-800-282-8069 (ext. 2332)
TDD/TTY: 204-945-1437



Effective date: September 8, 2022
Original policy issued: October 10, 2018