As legal guidelines defending grownup use of each medical and leisure marijuana use unfold, the second-largest employer within the U.S. is altering its tune on drug testing.
In a June blog post, Amazon stated it “will now not embrace marijuana in our complete drug screening program” for jobs that aren’t regulated by the U.S. Division of Transportation. As a substitute, the corporate stated it might deal with marijuana use the identical as alcohol use.
The announcement was stunning regardless of Amazon’s standing as a trend-setter from a enterprise operations perspective, Michael Freimann, companion at Greenspoon Marder, informed HR Dive. However the information might have a “ripple impact” on how different employers strategy marijuana testing shifting ahead, he added, resulting from the truth that increasingly more jurisdictions have applied marijuana use laws.
At present, 18 states in addition to Washington, D.C., have adopted laws that legalize some type of grownup leisure use, in keeping with the Nationwide Convention of State Legislatures. States added to the checklist in 2021 embrace Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia.
Inside a few of these statutes, states have added provisions that embrace various types of protections for job candidates’ use of marijuana. In 2019, Nevada turned the primary state to ban employers from refusing to rent job candidates — with exceptions for some roles — on the basis of a positive marijuana test.
This yr, two states adopted up with comparable legal guidelines. In February, New Jersey enacted a law stating that employers could not refuse to rent and should not take adversarial employment actions towards workers due to hashish use or solely due to the presence of cannabinoid metabolites within the worker’s bodily fluid that outcomes from conduct permitted beneath state legislation. In April, neighboring state New York adopted legislation prohibiting employment discrimination towards staff primarily based on hashish use previous to the start of or after the conlusion of their work hours, off the employer’s premises and with out using the employer’s gear or property.
Amazon shouldn’t be alone in adopting insurance policies that take new legal guidelines into consideration. Following passage of Virginia’s leisure use laws this yr, the town authorities of Norfolk, Virginia, dropped drug testing necessities for a lot of job classes, save for sure “security delicate” positions, local news outlet WAVY-TV reported.
The strategy could unfold as employers search uniformity of their drug-testing insurance policies amid a fractured authorized panorama, in keeping with Freimann.
“We’re beginning to see a development of states taking these subsequent steps,” he added. “Amazon’s announcement is a option to get forward of the curve.”
However that doesn’t imply many employers will drop drug testing necessities altogether, even for marijuana; like Amazon, employers will seemingly must maintain in place necessities for positions regulated by DOT, Freimann stated. And plenty of states which have legalized leisure use still permit employers to create insurance policies prohibiting that use, whether or not on- or off-duty. Others spell out the flexibility of employers to create insurance policies that support in sustaining protected workplaces.
“Security will nonetheless be paramount,” Freimann stated, including that employers throughout the board could practice managers to determine whether or not an worker is beneath the affect of hashish, much like alcohol and different medication. Even in workplaces that moved distant through the pandemic, employers continued drug testing regimens, employment legislation specialists beforehand informed HR Dive.
Requested how an employer may implement a change in coverage much like Amazon, Freimann stated HR groups could must first overview their worker handbooks and insurance policies to find out present compliance measures and coaching protocols. From there, employers can determine which jobs they may proceed testing protocols for, and which of them they won’t.
Off-duty conduct is prone to be a key consideration; “If somebody did come to work and use marijuana recreationally whereas they have been off-duty, how are we treating that individual?” Freimann stated.
Moreover, employers want to make sure that the definition of “affordable suspicion” inside their insurance policies “is well-defined and understood” throughout the group, together with throughout coaching, he famous. If a supervisor determines an worker is impaired by marijuana use, “they must articulate why they’ve affordable suspicion to do this,” Freimann defined.
Documentation can also be essential. “Be sure you’re following up verbal discussions or emails with memos you possibly can put within the file [and] doing issues as contemporaneously as attainable,” Freimann stated.