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Developing a Recovery Responsive Workforce Policy

According to SAMHSA, creating a written policy that reflects the needs of your workplace and applicable laws is key to establishing a successful recovery responsive workforce and culture.


After assessing your workplace’s needs, you will want to develop a policy that is customized to your organization.


5 Reasons Why You Need a Written Policy:

  1. A written policy is often required by law or by insurance carriers;

  2. A written policy makes legal review possible;

  3. A written policy provides a record of an organization’s efforts and a reference if the policy is challenged. It might protect the employer from certain kinds of claims by employees;

  4. A written policy is easier to explain to employees, supervisors, and others; and

  5. A written policy makes the information easier and clearer for employees to understand and commit to.

When developing a policy, consider the following:

  • Legal requirements such substance-free workplace laws and regulations that may apply; Characteristics of your workplace and employees;

  • The values and priorities of your organization;

  • Basic elements of an effective policy;

  • Developing a statement of purpose for your policy; and

  • Strategizing your implementation approach.

Key elements of an effective policy should include:

  • Goals Definitions, Expectations, and Prohibitions

  • Dissemination Strategies

  • Benefits and Assurances

  • Consequences and Appeals

  • Policy Approaches


Policy approaches can range from meeting the minimum requirements mandated by law to broader policies that address other issues that might be related to drug use, such as employee absenteeism.


Identifying Your Policy Purpose and Goals


Statement of Purpose


According to SAMHSA, a statement of purpose should contain your goals for the workplace policy, the organization’s definition of "substance use," and a description of how the policy was developed.


For example, was it developed in meetings with union representatives or employees representing different and diverse sections of the workforce? Or in collaboration with the organization’s legal counsel? Some organizations may want the policy to have a very narrow goal, such as meeting the minimum requirements of a law. Other organizations may prefer broader goals.


What are your goals?


To help you develop your statement of purpose, you will want to first identify the goals of your policy. What is it that you want to accomplish through this policy, specifically?


To define policy goals, consider the following:

  • What are the substance-free workplace laws and regulations (federal, state, or local) with which your organization must comply, if applicable?

  • What other goals does your organization expect to achieve? For example, does your organization hope to reduce or eliminate substance workplace accidents, illnesses, and absenteeism?

  • Does your organization want to address the issue of preventing and treating workplace drug use and misuse in the context of accomplishing a broader goal?

  • Do you want to promote employee wellness and safety?

After assessing your workplace’s needs, Recovery Business Association will sit down with your team to help you identify the purpose, goals, benefits, assurances, and definitions of your workforce policy, as well as the laws and regulations your organization is subject to. Following this, RBA will assist you in developing a customized implementation strategy so you can effectively communicate your new policy to your diverse teams and then put this policy into action. Our policy services include: support to write your official statement of purpose and policy, employee policy training, and more.