Ever since Uruguayan President Jose Mujica put his seal of approval on regulations outlining the country’s legal marijuana policy, the business community has been trying to catch a glimpse of the controversial new laws in order to learn how they might affect their productivity.
It did not take long before a number of employers emerged from the sidelines with complaints over how Uruguay’s newfound legal weed status does not allow them to penalize those workers who come to work stoned. In fact, while article 42 of the decree 120/2014 states that employees are forbidden to use cannabis during the work day, there are no provisions outlined in the document that explicitly prevent employees from reporting to work under the influence of marijuana.
Interestingly, the decree indicates there is no disciplinary recourse for an employer to take if he suspects an employee of being stoned on the job, “if the worker has not engaged in the commission of any other actual fault punishable derived from obligations emerging from the work contract, or motivated not by the problematic use of cannabis.” This essentially means as long as an employee’s work performance is not affected by the apparent use of marijuana, the employer should have no grounds for a complaint – and cannot issue a penalty.
However, Uruguay’s Chamber of Commerce is not comfortable with the ambiguous language in the final decree and have since filed a lawsuit that claims the law “invades the contractual employment relationship between individuals, affecting the power of the employers and putting at risk the lives and the physical integrity of the remaining workers.”
The lawsuit states that if employers have the authority to punish employees for coming to work under the influence of alcohol, they should also have the right to inflict penalties on those who show up high at the workplace. Claudia Piacenza, who oversees the chamber, recently told AFP that the decree is “nonsense” and “an experiment in every sense of the word.”
Earlier last month, President Mujica invoked an appeals process on the lawsuit that will keep the complaint idle for 150 days before it can be heard in court.
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