Three months after Amazon announced that it would stop testing its own employees for weed, the shipping giant is urging its delivery partners to do the same.
Although Amazon employs hundreds of thousands of people at its warehouses, the drivers who actually deliver the products to customers do not work directly for the company. Instead, the online retailer partners with smaller, local companies that hire their own drivers and maintain their own drug-free workplace policies. But in recent months, the post-pandemic labor shortage has made it difficult for many of these businesses to find new drivers.
To resolve the situation, Amazon is asking its partners to stop testing their drivers for cannabis. In one memo, the e-commerce behemoth claimed that partner companies could increase their incoming job applications by 400 percent by openly advertising that they don't test for weed. The company also told its partners that screening for pot reduces the number of prospective applicants by as much as 30 percent.
Some delivery partners have already agreed to stop screening job applicants for cannabis. One of these partners recently told Bloomberg that more of her applicants have been passing their drug screening tests since her company excluded weed from its standard drug tests. The employer added that most of the job applicants who failed drug screenings in the past tested positive for weed.
But many delivery companies are choosing to continue employment drug testing because they are concerned about insurance and liability, especially in states where cannabis is still illegal. “If one of my drivers crashes and kills someone and tests positive for marijuana, that’s my problem, not Amazon’s,” an anonymous delivery company owner told Bloomberg.
In a recent statement, Amazon explained that workplace cannabis testing has disproportionately impacted people of color, discouraging them from applying for delivery driver jobs. The statement also warns that the company also has a strict zero-tolerance policy for employees or delivery partners that are using drugs on the job, though.
“If a delivery associate is impaired at work and tests positive post-accident or due to reasonable suspicion, that person would no longer be permitted to perform services for Amazon,” the company's spokesperson said, according to Bloomberg.
Amazon is encouraging its partners to hire more drivers to help fulfill the increased demand expected during the upcoming holiday shopping season. Many of the experienced drivers who are looking for work right now are being recruited by school bus companies, though. School bus drivers can make $20 or more an hour during reasonable work hours, but the average Amazon delivery partner driver only makes $17 an hour and often has to work late to keep up with demand.
Many corporations have started offering perks to encourage job applicants to apply for low-paying positions during the post-pandemic employment shortage, and Amazon hopes that ending cannabis drug testing will be the thing that inspires more people to work for them. But like most of these other corporations, the shipping giant is still trying to entice employees with perks, rather than offering higher, more competitive wages.