You may have seen our Managing Director, Natasha Hawker was interviewed for an ABC Online article last week on the businesses who are hiring only non-smokers.
As you may expect, the comments on this article picked up views from both ends of the spectrum and the article itself was picked up as a talking point in other articles. Clearly it’s a hot topic.
So let’s look at the three questions that pop up most around specifically recruiting non-smokers:
- Can I Actually Do this?
As the legal expert in the article points out, smoking isn’t one of the categories explicitly protected by anti–discrimination legislation, so, on the face of it, the answer is yes you can specifically require someone to be a non–smoker. However, as always, there’s a chance that case law also will catch up with this phenomenon and at some point be asked to rule on whether smoking is an addiction and therefore can be counted as a disability.
So, there is an element of “‘watch this space”’, but for now many businesses are taking the opportunity to do this. Which leads us onto the next question…
- Why Would I Do this?
As Natasha mentioned in the ABC Online article the primary reason most people choose is Health. The evidence is clear that non –smokers are generally healthier, which is usually characterised by taking fewer sick days. Indeed it certain circumstances you may also need to consider the health of your non –smoking employees, should there be situations where they are subjected to smoke from their smoking colleagues.
Excessive breaks is also high on the employer’s list of bugbears with smokers. The need to pop outside to “‘feed the addiction”’ can create a less productive employee and tension with the non–smokers who “‘stick to the rules”’ around breaks. Yes, this can be managed and brought to your smoker’s attention but isn’t it easier just not to have this problem to deal with?
Another potential reason is Professional Presentation. You don’t want your professional employees smelling of smoke or shaking hands with yellow, nicotine–stained fingers!
So you can see why many employers are opting out of hiring smokers.
- Why Wouldn’t I Do this?
So you have read this far and made up your mind it’s time to start excluding the smokers from your business. But hang on a minute, here are some counter arguments to consider, before you change your job ads.
How big is your Recruitment Talent Pool? As we have been saying for some time now, we are generally in a very tight candidate market. Put simply for most roles, there are not enough quality candidates to choose from. Is it worth potentially narrowing the field even further and excluding great candidates who happen to have an antisocial habit?
Even if the answer is yes to the above, how are you going to deal with someone who starts smoking, once they have started work with you? While it may not be discriminatory to hire non–smokers that does not necessarily mean firing a smoker would be seen as fair and reasonable.
So the question of hiring only non–smokers does require some thought, before you dive in.
Remember Employee Matters is always here to help you Hire Better, so to discuss all of your recruitment needs in more detail, why not contact us today!