Employees who use opioids are legally protected under federal disability laws and can request housing if the use raises a safety issue, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in an employee guidance issued Wednesday.
While Americans with Disabilities Act allows employers to fire employees for illegal use even if there are no performance or safety issues, if its use is legal "an employer cannot automatically disable you due to opioid use without thinking on whether there is a way for you to work safely and effectively said the agency in its guidance, use of codeine, oxycodone and other opioids: information for employees.
The guidance states that if an employee takes opioid medication listed in a medication assistant programs, they can not be denied a job or fired "unless you can perform the job safely and efficiently or if you are disqualified under another federal law." 1
Once the request has been received, employers can ask employees to fill out a form and send one letter from a healthcare provider that shows that they have an ADA disability and that explains why they need affordable housing, says the adviser.
It states that employers must provide reasonable accommodation if it does not involve significant differences lty or cost and may not charge the employee for the accommodation.
Employers may also be required to keep employees' jobs while taking leave for treatment or recovery, it says.
Separately, the agency also provided guidance on how caregivers can help current and former patients who have used or abused opioids to stay employed.