Should employers have the right to ban or restrict smoking by their employees at the workplace? Why do you think so? As is the case with OSHA, employees have the right to a safe and healthy workplace. Since smoking impedes on that right, I do believe that employers have the right to ban or restrict employee smoking at the workplace.
Second hand smoke is a serious issue, one that is often overlooked by smokers. Nonsmokers have the right to not be exposed to something that they choose not to engage in. It is unfair for employees to be exposed to health risks that they are not personally subjecting themselves to. Additionally, there is some responsibility on the workplace to ensure that added level of a safe and healthy environment. Since exposure to smoke is a health hazard, choosing to restrict or ban it cannot be seen as a violation of personal rights.
2.Should employers have the right to restrict or ban smoking by employees off the job, as Weyco did? Why do you think so? I was torn on this situation as I am a firm believer in personal rights. But considering the added health costs the employer must ensue for their smoking employees, shouldn’t they have the right to say no!
I do think that employers should have the right to restrict or ban smoking off the job if it meets certain criteria. For starters, employees must be given ample notification or if the rule is already in place, be notified in advance of applying to the organization. Next, it is important that existing employees affected by the change, as was the case at Weyco, be given the tools and opportunity to quit. I feel 15 months was an ample amount of time, given the tools the organization supplied, to make lifestyle changes if one chose to. Finally, I think there should be ongoing support to educate and assist with the process.
There are definitely certain industries that I believe should invoke this. A good example of this would be healthcare providers. Do you know how many times I see the nurse who is going to be assisting me at the hospital or clinic outside smoking cigarettes? I’ve actually seen oncologists smoking outside the hospital – people who fight for lives that have been affected medically by smoking…it enrages me. Thus, I do believe that hospitals should only employ nonsmokers. I must admit when I have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get to work, it infuriates me. I guess you might get a very different answer to these questions if you asked a smoker.
3.Should the government regulate smoking at work? If so, what would be the best public policy? Why do you think so? The simple solution to the problem would be to allow the government to regulate smoking at work.
By offering public policy that mandated certain industries have to employ smoke free employees, banning all indoor smoking at work, igniting strict parameters on those industries allowed to have smokers, and continuing to penalize employees from a health insurance perspective – the government could greatly help deter or control costs surrounding this awful habit. A possible consideration would be to make smokers fully pay for their own health insurance. If they saw the added cost they have on their employer maybe they would rethink their options.
4.Should multinational firms have a single corporate policy on smoking in the workplace, or vary their policies depending on local laws and norms of behavior in various countries where they do business? Again, this is a question I was thoroughly torn on. Having taken many global business courses,
I recognize the importance of doing business according to the local laws and norms. In my opinion the health hazards imposed by smoking and exposure to second hand smoke remain constant regardless of location, local law or behavioral norms. However, it becomes difficult to do business in countries where you invoke rules and regulations that go against what the social norms are. Unfortunately I think if you go against the grain in other countries you are more likely to hit resistance and be unable to find employees to work for you. Although, I also believe to be fair to US employees, national locations should be treated the same.
My organization is owned by a Dutch based company and they often invoke policies that seem odd here in the US, but they blanket all decisions across all locations. I can’t decide which makes more sense. My business hat says no they should not have a single policy but my human resources hat says yes they should.