Smoking can stub out job opportunities
It turns out your health isn't the only thing being harmed by your smoking habit. Finding employment could also be an issue for smokers, an employment expert says.
A recent job search turned up 15 New Zealand organisations with job ads that reference “non-smokers only” or “non-smokers preferred.” They include jobs in the trades industry, transport and logistics, community services, and education sector.
Is refusing to hire a smoker considered
Although refusing to hire a smoker may not be considered fair or reasonable, it is not unlawful.
According to Employsure’s senior Employment
Relations expert Vanessa Bainbridge, there is no one single
law that deals solely with job advertisements and what can
and cannot be referenced in them. “New Zealand
employers can advertise for non-smokers only, without
violating the Human Rights Act.”
Human Rights laws prevent discrimination on the basis of race, age, sexual orientation or preference, political opinion, marital status, family and carer's responsibilities as well as things like disability and impairment.
"Smoking doesn't explicitly fall into one of these categories as unlawful discrimination — so while the job advert might seem to be discriminating against smokers, it's likely that, under the law, it actually isn't," Ms Bainbridge said.
Can employers ban smoking in the workplace?
Banning smoking in workplaces like bars and restaurants is permitted under the Smoke-free Environments Act. This Act is intended to protect non-smokers from being affected by smoking.
adding, "Most workplaces are alcohol-free so, it is
common for employers to expect the same standard for a
Further, “it’s a workplace safety issue,” according to Ms Bainbridge. Since 2002, second-hand smoke has been recognised as a significant workplace hazard, shifting the focus from bar or café patrons’ rights to employers’ responsibility to provide a healthy safe workplace for workers.
For now, employers wishing to
advertise ‘non-smokers only’ are free to do so, but
should seek expert advice when hiring or recruiting new
staff, “It’s important to use the right language
in job ads and ensure workplace policies don’t