Human Capital forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

‘Smokers need not apply’ – legitimate discrimination?

Notify me of new replies via email
HC Online | 15 May 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
A Melbourne publishing firm has come under fire for stating in a job ad that smokers need not apply – HC investigates the legalities behind the controversy.
  • Ross Jackson | 15 May 2012, 06:32 PM Agree 0
    There is an obvious conflict between what Karen Toohey is reported to have said, and what Peter Vitali has said. Whilst weight and height are "physical features" upon which it is unlawful to discriminate in employment, smoking is not. Depending on the medical evidence it may be an impairment of nicotine addiction (but is not neccessarily)so with respect I think Karen is wrong and Peter is right-there is no law that says you can`t discriminate against smokers.
  • Carole Goldsmith | 16 May 2012, 02:16 PM Agree 0
    Smoking should be banned at work, out the front of work, in the streets and people have the right not to employ smokers. I would never employ a smoker, takes more sick leave, clothes smell, not as active in the brain, earlier onset of alzheimers - besides smoking kills.
  • Satrina Brandt | 16 May 2012, 03:26 PM Agree 0
    Is it unlawful to discriminate on weight and height? Which piece of legislation is that? It could create indirect discrimination eg. a minimum height may exclude races of shorter stature such as Asians and this would be unlawful discrimination. However, weight and height of themselves are not mentioned in the legislation and smoking isn't either. I think Karen Toohey was indicating that it was irrelevant to their ability to do the job. She didn't say that it is unlawful. Many smokers take additional breaks which is unfair and affects productivity. However, this is more of a management issue. Some smokers manage it very well and restrict smoking to designated breaks.
  • Robin Pollock | 21 May 2012, 02:26 PM Agree 0
    Pity the poor co-workers, travellers, etc who have to sit close to a smoker! They reek of cigarettes - I, for one, would not want to work with a smoker, and I would give a non-smoker preferance for a job any day. Witness the group of smokers who would have spent, on average, one hour a day taking smoke breaks out on the footpath (smoking not permitted on coy premises) at a previous company, where customers and passers by could see them - what a great image for that company I don't think! Not to mention non smoking colleagues who resented, big time, the extra breaks these people took. Employees are not permitted to drink alcohol at work or take breaks to do it elsewhere so why on earth should smokers be permitted to do so. Discrimination, NO WAY.
  • SDM | 22 May 2012, 04:34 PM Agree 0
    The reality, is that a smoker is at the very least perceived as being less productive than a person who does not. There are few people in my business that smoke, and I seem to see them constantly coming in/out of the office for a smoke. Truth be told, they smell. It's in their breath, their hair & their clothes. In my own team, I have 1 person who smokes. I worry about his health & have offered to assist him quitting if he chooses. Not because I think he is less productive, but because I value him & don't want him to go through what I see on those nasty TV adds. I then look to the rest of my non-smoking team. I ask myself if they are more productive. Some are. However, there are several in my team that seem to spend quite a bit of time on facebook or shopping online & as a consequence they sometimes don't get through things as fast as they should. In my view, I want the best possible person for a role. If they smoke, so be it. If they have a hygiene issue as a result or they spend too much time outside smoking, they can be sure there will be a conversation. For those in my team who go on facebook, do I care? Only when their productivity dips below what I expect. They can also be sure I will have a conversation with them about that.
  • David Roberts | 23 May 2012, 08:53 AM Agree 0
    Lets not get caught up on the notion that a smoker's clothes may smell or that you may not like the smoking habit, the issues is, as an employer, is there any valid reason not to employ smokers and what is this based on?
    I happen to be offended sometimes by the type and strength of perfume that some women (and some men too) choose to use at work, but its hardly a reason to not hire them. I am a non smoker and do not like to see workers congregating outside of buildings and in laneways ostracised from the general workforce, but this is really a management issue that can be worked on for the best of the company.
    Health issues causing time off work, creating less productive working habits, or otherwise reducing the productivity of the company either directly or indirectly, is of more importance in this case.
    I beleive some jobs should not be filled by smokers due to these health issues. Lets be careful here. A lot of nurses and other health professionals smoke, so are we saying that hospitals should not employ a doctor because they admitted on ther application form or health documents that they were a smoker?
    I think that smokers are easy targets in this debate. Have you heard how hard it is to dismiss an employee who has admitted to taking illegal 'recreational' drugs, not at work, but at home, or more seriously, how many workers are taking high doses of prescribed drugs at work while operating machinery or vehicles? Smoking has the reputation that see it as a simple choice people make in life that can be stopped easily and yet the use of illegal or overuse of prescribed drugs is accepted as an illness which needs to be treated. Lets look at the good of the community and for a productive business as a guide for discrimination rather than our using our personal preferences.
  • Smoking activist | 02 Jul 2016, 12:34 PM Agree 0
    I posted something a while back and it was removed as I had fair points and proof that backs it up as I was with the smokers
    • Kevin | 04 Jul 2016, 09:26 AM Agree 0
      Smoking activist, I'm not sure what happened and I apologise if your comment was deleted. As this thread is four years old though, I hope you understand that I can't go back and find your comment to see why it wasn't posted. If you want, you can re-write your points here again and I'll put them up!
Post a reply