Puff the not-so-magic dragon. Today’s health care costs have employers cracking down on everything from smoking to drinking, weight loss and more. Is it legal for an employer to stick their nose in your off-work play? Can this really affect your job search? 5% of employees represent 50% of health care costs which is why companies including Quaker Oats, Johnson & Johnson, IBM and Motorola have all instituted wellness programs.
Smoked out of a job
“You’ve got 15 months to quit smoking or your job.” That’s the message Weyco gave it’s employees, accompanied by a stop smoking program. 20 employees were affected one way or another, including a 14 year tenured employee that tried the program, gum and patches, to no avail.
According to experts featured on 60 Minutes on CNBC, under the law in all but 5 states in America, you can be fired, or not hired, for any reason at will, including smoking. Why would Weyco do this? The increasing cost of health care on the employer’s bottom-line.
The weight of wellness
Want to work in the casino industry? Be careful what you wish for; The Borgata Babes, male and female bar attendants, are only allowed to gain 7% of your body weight. Yes, this is legal. If you think it’s an industry issue, think again.
The University of Louisville saw such a dramatic increase in health insurance costs they instituted a wellness program to incentivize employees to get healthy and ideally drive down their costs. Employees get a $20 credit on their monthly health insurance premium in exchange for completing a wellness, sexual, and exercise plan and working with an exercise coach.
Now that you’ve quit smoking and are exercising, it might be nice to go out on a date and have a beer. Careful what you order; you might get fired! A guy in Colorado who worked for Anheuser-Busch was on a date when his waitress accidentally delivered a Coors Light beer; he drank it. His boss’ son bumped into him on his date and offered to buy him a Budweiser, he declined and kept the Coors Light. He was fired the next day. You guessed it, legal. He’s not an alcoholic; he just ordered the wrong brand.
When it comes to job searching it’s a wise move to clean up your bad habits and give yourself the best possible chance to land a new opportunity. It’s been a stated fact, by employers, and hiring managers alike, that they screen out smokers, overweight, and unhealthy candidates. Do they proclaim that out loud? Sometimes, although not often; but it is happening more often than you might care to admit or see.
Who’s really to blame? The employer who implements these policies to keep costs at bay? Insurance companies who increase premiums placed on employers because of rising health care costs? Or the individuals that have medical problems that are a result of these bad habits?
The reality is that it’s a circle that continues to go round and the ones punished are those currently in, or attempting to land in, the workplace today. Your best bet is to keep your personal brand, and habits, healthy.