Online retail titan Amazon is backing plans behind federal decriminalization of marijuana. It supports the elimination of criminal penalties for the drug. More importantly, the company is pledging to stop screening workers for marijuana use.
Amazon Supports The MORE Act
In a blog post-Tuesday, Dave Clark, Amazon’s consumer head, said that the online retail company supports the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), reintroduced in the House late last month.
The act aims for the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records and invest in impacted communities. “We hope that other employers will join us and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law,” Clark wrote.
Amazon said that as part of its support, it would adjust its corporate drug testing policy for its workers. The company will remove marijuana in its drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, Clark said.
Need For Federal Guidelines on Cannabis
While many US states already legalized marijuana use, employers remain reluctant to work with the cannabis industry as it remains a classified substance at the federal level.
As a result of the lack of federal directives, some worker groups are proposing a class-action lawsuit against Amazon. This is in relation to the company’s alleged violation of New York state laws for testing applicants for marijuana.
“In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. However, given where state laws are moving across the US, we’ve changed course.” Clark said.
Amazon To Also Change Worker Productivity System
Clark said Amazon is also changing its “time off task” system, a metric that measures worker productivity. To measure individual productivity, Amazon monitors warehouse workers.
The system logs the number of packages they pick, pack and stow each hour. If workers take a break from scanning packages for too long, Amazon’s internal systems will log it as a time off task and generate a warning, which can later lead to firings.
Clark explained that the measurement system was designed to identify issues with workers’ tools and “only secondarily to identify underperforming employees” during shifts.
Instead, Amazon will start to measure time off tasks over a longer time period. Clark wrote that with the new policy, he hopes that Amazon management will now use the Time Off Task policy as intended.
Relentless Work Pace
Employees and labor groups criticized the time off task policy, saying it makes difficult working conditions more stressful.
In addition, management continues to use the policy as a tool to monitor workers. As a result of these stressful practices, injury rates among employees are on the rise.
Meanwhile, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is bound to leave his position next month. In his last letter to shareholders, he argued that Amazon’s performance policies are not unreasonable.
However, he acknowledged that his company needs a better vision to help employees succeed. As a result, he vowed to make Amazon “Earth’s Best Employer” and “Earth’s Safest Place to Work.”
Watch the Yahoo Finance video report that the House passes the MORE Act, but expects an uphill battle in the Senate:
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