Employers and HR Professionals Discuss Impact of Drug Abuse in the Workplace

HYANNIS – Business owners and human resource professionals on Cape Cod gathered Thursday in Hyannis and discussed the impact of drug abuse in the workplace.

The monthly meeting of the Cape Cod Human Resources Association featured a panel discussion on the region’s substance use crisis and the liability issues, workplace safety and ways for employers to provide assistance to employees affected by the opioid epidemic.

“When we are talking about substance use you’ve got the legal perspective and then you also have the employer perspective,” said Tammy Cunningham, the president of the association.

“So you need to be aware of what laws are coming into play when dealing with any type of issues relating to substance use in the workplace.”

Cunningham recommends employers who need advice to contact the Barnstable County Department of Human Services or other local HR professionals.

“If one employer is dealing with this we know others are as well,” Cunningham said. “So I would think you should turn to each other if you are looking for assistance and to also seek legal guidance if you can.”

The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce saw a need to provide services for local businesses due to the opioid epidemic.

Earlier this year a new, affordable employee assistance plan was made available for employers on Cape Cod to help workers and their families receive short-term counseling services.

The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce and Rogers & Gray Insurance collaborated to bring the services of North Carolina-based Diamond Healthcare’s REACH EAP program.

The service provides confidential face-to-face, telephone and virtual counseling for employees and their family members who may need help managing stress, anxiety, anger, substance abuse or other issues.

The Chamber and Rogers & Gray secured a special group rate for any employers in the region for just $9.50 per employee per year.

EAPs are a common benefit offered by large corporations, but are usually too costly for small businesses, which make up the majority of the Cape Cod economy.

Of the roughly 8,000 businesses on Cape Cod, 91 percent of businesses employ less than 20 individuals. Companies with only one to four employees make up 61 percent of the businesses on Cape Cod.

All employers on Cape Cod and the Islands are able to join, even those who are self employeed.

The program has rolling enrollment and businesses can sign up every month.

To register and for more information visit www.whycapecod.org/reach-eap.

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