There is nothing in law that forbids workplace gambling by itself, but there are prohibitions against certain kinds of gambling under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Gambling while at work
In some workplaces people start an office pool to play the lottery on a weekly basis, which is usually quite harmless.
However, when more serious betting is involved at work, workplace gambling may become an issue as it could affect productivity.
Employers need to be aware that it is forbidden to run sports or lottery pools for profit.
There are two other issues that concern workplace gambling: possible employee conflicts that could arise and loss of productivity.
Employers should seriously consider including gambling policies in their employee manuals to ensure that employees don’t participate in illegal gambling and that any gambling that is done follow rules and guidelines as not to disturb productivity.
Gambling outside work hours
There should be no issues if people play the lottery or do some minor gambling when off work hours.
However, there are people who develop gambling addictions that can affect their work performance. Gambling addictions are not just harmful to the employee but can result in increased absenteeism, lateness, poor work performance, illness and even theft for the employer.
Though certain addictions, such as alcohol and drug addictions, have been classified as disabilities under the human rights codes of some provinces, gambling has yet to officially be recognized as such in most provinces.
That means employees may or may not have a case if they have a gambling addiction that has negatively affected their work performance and employment and they were fired as a consequence and are seeking recourse.
Still, there are some provinces, such as Manitoba, which may recognize an addiction to gambling as a disability that will require an employer to accommodate. It is also possible that other provincial human rights tribunals would be on the side of employee accommodation for a gambling addiction as well.
If you believe you have a gambling addiction, there are provincial problem gambling helplines you can call. If you have been fired due to a gambling problem you may want to consult with an employment lawyer.
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