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Amazon’s answer to delivery driver shortage: Recruit pot smokers

Amazon.com has a solution for a potentially crippling shortage of delivery drivers: Recruit pot smokers.

The company is advising its delivery partners — the Mums and Dads that operate the ubiquitous blue Amazon vans in America — to prominently advertise that they don’t screen applicants for marijuana use, according to correspondence reviewed by Bloomberg and interviews with four business owners.

Not screening for marijuana use can boost the number of job applicants by as much as 400 per cent, Amazon says.

Not screening for marijuana use can boost the number of job applicants by as much as 400 per cent, Amazon says.Credit:AP

Doing so can boost the number of job applicants by as much as 400 per cent, Amazon says in one message, without explaining how it came up with the statistic. Conversely, the company says, screening for marijuana cuts the prospective worker pool by up to 30 per cent.

One delivery partner, who stopped screening applicants at Amazon’s behest, says marijuana was the prevailing reason most people failed drug tests. Now that she’s only testing for drugs like opiates and amphetamines, more drivers pass.

Other delivery companies are continuing to screen applicants, concerned about the insurance and liability implications in the many states where weed use remains illegal. They also worry that ending drug testing might prompt some drivers to toke up before going out on a route.

“If one of my drivers crashes and kills someone and tests positive for marijuana, that’s my problem, not Amazon’s,” said one, who requested anonymity to discuss the issue because Amazon discourages delivery company owners from speaking to the media.

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Employers are dangling a variety of recruiting incentives amid America’s post-pandemic labour crunch since hiring bonuses alone no longer stand out. Target (not affiliated with Australia’s Target retail chain) this month announced it would pay college tuition for its employees. Applebee’s offered free appetisers to applicants in its push to recruit 10,000 workers.

Amazon, which is lobbying the US government to legalise marijuana, in June announced it would no longer screen applicants for the drug. It wasn’t long before the company began urging its delivery partners to do the same.

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