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Social Sciences
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The \'No Hiring of Smokers' Policy (Essay Sample)

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The paper looks at the \'No Hiring of Smokers\' Policy that has recently been employed by most companies.

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The "No Hiring of Smokers" Policy
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Table of Content
TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u Smoking and the Work Place PAGEREF _Toc382856661 \h 3
Support for this Policy PAGEREF _Toc382856662 \h 3
Harmful Effects Of Smoking PAGEREF _Toc382856663 \h 4
Increased Worker Productivity PAGEREF _Toc382856664 \h 4
Higher Insurance Costs PAGEREF _Toc382856665 \h 4
Opponents Against The Policy PAGEREF _Toc382856666 \h 5
Smokers Need Assistance Not Discrimination PAGEREF _Toc382856667 \h 5
Not Hiring Smokers Amounts To Discrimination PAGEREF _Toc382856668 \h 5
Not Hiring Smokers For Inflating Healthcare Costs Is A Too Simplistic Reason PAGEREF _Toc382856669 \h 6
Not Hiring Smokers Worsens The Smokers Standard Of Living PAGEREF _Toc382856670 \h 6
It Sets A Bad Precedent To Future Employment Practices PAGEREF _Toc382856671 \h 7
Smoking And Reduces Productivity Has No Research Backing PAGEREF _Toc382856672 \h 7
Works Cited PAGEREF _Toc382856673 \h 8
The ‘No Hiring of Smokers’ Policy
Just 20 years ago, Americans- smokers and non-smokers alike- tolerated smoking as a socially acceptable privilege. What was social and legally acceptable with regards to smoking has changed dramatically over the years. The initial changes were gradual. In the late 1970s and 1980s, non smokers began to assert a right to a smoke-free environment- first in elevators, then in restaurants and public places, and finally in the work place (Franze, 1999, pp.28). Today, employers are faced with the task of balancing the personal freedom and privacy interests of smokers with the health and comfort concerns of non-smokers.
This paper is going to highlight the whys and wherefores which have been put forward by proponents of the ‘no hiring of smokers’ policy and also give the objections that have been presented by opponents of this policy. It will finally conclude by proposing what should be the ideal policy to be adopted when hiring of a new employee.
Smoking and the Work Place
In recent years, there has been a lot of debate about companies that have taken their smoke-free work place policies to the limit by turning them into smoke-free workforce policies. Companies now have refused to hire anyone who admits to being a smoker on a job application or in pre-hiring interviews (Repa, 2010, pp. 232). These companies refuse to hire- or threaten to fire (Bray, 2012, pp. 367). Employers have taken this step because of the apparent potential higher costs of healthcare insurance, absenteeism, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation associated with employees who smoke. According to Richard (1991, pp.354) it has been estimated that approximately 6,000 American companies refuse to employ smokers, whether they smoke on job or not.
Support for this Policy
Advocates of this policy have put forward different rationalization for their support of this policy, some of which are deemed as truly valid, while some can be thought of as dwelling on simplicities (England, 2012, pp.167).
Harmful Effects of Smoking
In support of this policy, proponents have maintained that such policies send a strong message to employees and the wider community that smoking is harmful and therefore in the long discourages continued smoking or new cases of smoking. They also state that the policy gives the employee an incentive to quit smoking and that in the long run, it will save the employer money especially in the form of reduced health insurance (Shilling, 2013, pp.91). Proponents also claim that the policy will please and appeal to workers who are put off by the smell of cigarette smoke.
Increased Worker Productivity
This position has also been strengthened by research, whereby, according to Chapman (2008, pp.169), employees who smoke cost on average $3,396 more per year than non-smokers in the form of lost productivity, increased absenteeism, increased insurance costs and other related costs. For that reason, there exists an economic justification to target smokers.
Higher Insurance Costs
To discourage smoking, employers have come up with various work policies. Some employers offer incentive programs to encourage employees to quit smoking such as paying for smoking cessation classes or offering a bonus (Repa, 2010, pp.232), others are imposing penalties on those who smoke by charging more for health care insurance, while others refused to hire smokers altogether by requiring nicotine testing as part of the pre-employment drug test (Shilling, 2013, pp.91).
Opponents against the policy
Most employers have taken this step of only hiring non-smokers and discouraging their current employees from smoking. However, this is a wrong approach for employers to be taking. Policies like these carry risks which may far outweigh the possible rewards (Bray, 2012, pp.367). Opposition and Disapproval for this policy has come heavily and strongly against such policies. This objection has been backed by the following reasons:
Smokers need assistance not discrimination
Firstly, according to Bray ( 2012, pp.368) to most people, smoking as a habit is an addiction and smokers need assistance in breaking their addiction. Therefore, they should not be excluded from the work place for as long as they are competent to do all that entails their job description. Not hiring smokers is not going to help smokers end their addiction. Addiction to nicotine has been recognized as a disability under human rights legislation. Therefore, it would be inappropriate and indecorous for an employer to probe a prospective employee about his or her smoking habits additionally, at any given time, 23%-75% of smokers want to quit smoking, and they need assistance and help to overcome it and not to be penalized. Franze (1999, pp.29) adds that targeting smokers at the workplace by refusing to hire them or consenting to them to smoke in the course of their working hours presents a number of human rights concerns.
Not hiring smokers amounts to discrimination
Secondly, discrimination in any way is wrong and such policies at the work place are tantamount to Lifestyle discrimination. Repa (2010, pp.232) states that discrimination laws are designed to keep an employer from making employment-related decisions that disadvantage employers based on the categories that the state or local government find worthy of protection. It is illegal to discriminate when hiring, creating or applying policies, training, promoting, firing or laying off employees, or in any other terms and conditions of employment. It is not acceptable or ethical that a potential candidate for a position is ineligible because they smoke. The candidate may have excellent academic qualifications, a warm personality, a hard-working manner and people skills. These traits are more useful at the work place than a perception that as a smoker one will be a negative asset to the company.
Not Hiring Smokers for Inflating Healthcare Costs is a too Simplistic Reason
Thirdly, the decision to do away with smokers for the reason that they are responsible for inflating costs related to health care is too simplistic (England, 2012, pp.168). There exist other diseases and many healthy behaviors that also result in additional health care costs. For example, cancer and employees who engage in risky sports which may result to accidents or experience trauma routinely and burden the company with additional costs.
Not Hiring Smokers Worsens th...
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