The Biden Administration has released a Recovery-Ready Workplace Toolkit: Guidance and Resources for Private and Public Sector Employers. The Toolkit is part of Administration’s efforts to beat the opioid epidemic. It provides information, tools, and resources to help employers effectively prevent and respond to substance misuse in the workforce and reduce its impact on employers and on the broader community.
The Toolkit encourages employers to institute “Recovery Ready Workplaces” to help reduce the stigma of substance use disorders and promote employment opportunities for those recovering from those disorders. Among other things and as feasible, “recovery ready” employers will take actions and adopt policies to:
• Hire people in recovery, including those with a history of criminal justice system (CJS) involvement related to their substance use;
• Identify work-related risk factors for substance use and take steps to address them;
• Ensure employees have access to treatment, recovery supports and other services and supports they need;
• Delineate clear return-to-work polices to facilitate a successful transition back to the workplace following treatment or to manage work during treatment when an absence is not required;
• Offer appropriate medical or disability leave to receive treatment for injuries and other conditions leading to pain and to receive SUD treatment when needed;
• Provide for reasonable accommodations, such as scheduling flexibility or leave to permit receipt of outpatient treatment or recovery support services or to participate in mutual aid meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and SMART Recovery;
• Allow for temporary reassignment from certain safety-sensitive positions when needed;
• Plan for the return to work following SUD treatment or the continuation of work during treatment, providing needed reasonable accommodations and workplace supports, if available, and specifying expectations, milestones and time lines;
• Permit temporary or permanent modification of minor job requirements or reassignment to a vacant position as a reasonable accommodation when warranted;
• Support employee resource groups (ERGs) or other employee-led activities by or on behalf of employees in recovery from SUD; and,
• Facilitate access to peer recovery support services or peer mentoring in the workplace provided by recovering employees who volunteer to serve in such a role, by individuals employed to serve in that function, through an agreement with a recovery community organization (RCO) or other entity, or with the help of local volunteers.
The intent is to reduce the stigma around substance use disorders, provide employment opportunities, maintain safe workplaces, and demonstrate to employees that their employer supports individuals in recovery.