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How Much Control Do You Have Over Employees? April 17, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Business-Society Issues, Employees.

I came across an article that featured an employer wondering what she can do about her workers that smoked cigarettes. Insurance companies charge a higher rate for employees that smoke. Employees obviously do not smoke at their workplace, but some do when they are off the clock. Is it fair for the employee to require that her workers do not smoke at all? It would save the company a tremendous amount of money in the insurance department.

Unfortunately for the employer, there are laws stating you cannot discriminate an applicant for their activities outside of the work place. This includes risky behavior such as bungee jumping, sky diving, etc. I remember watching the movie “Along Came Polly.” The guy’s job was to calculate how much insurance/risk each person was worth. His client would partake in extreme activities such as parachuting, hand-gliding, and free falls. He would constantly be stressed out and warned his client that he was too expensive to insure. Are there laws stating that you cannot limit the activities an individual can do just because of insurance purposes?

Helping out the employer, there are laws that allow them to pass the higher costs of insurance over to the smoker. Instead of being discriminated against and now allowed to have the job, these workers just have to pay the additional insurance money. Is this a fair practice?



1. Stacey Swift - April 17, 2007

If they were going to make employees pay for the increase in cost of insurance if they smoke are they going to make other employees with other health problems also pay? I know that people with diabetes, depression, and other chronic health problems also have higher ensurance. I do not think they can single out one health problemw when other employees also have higher insurance costs.

2. Janine - April 19, 2007

Yes, I think that the employee should have to cover more of the premium for insurance if he or she is a smoker. It is a consequence of their actions, so they must account for it. As for the employer not allowing their employees to smoke or do anything dangerous because of insurance reasons, well that is just too much to handle. Seriously, how are companies and employers going manage all that? How can they monitor their employees without impinging on personal and civil rights?

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