Corp. suspended 39 employees this week at a manufacturing plant in
They were spotted smoking, or chewing tobacco, in smoke break areas on
company property. They had all signed health
plan related documents stating that they were non-smokers, non tobacco
users. Whirlpool charges smokers an
additional $500 each year in employee contributions for health plan
coverage. Violation of Whirlpool policy
prohibiting falsification of documents is being investigated, these employees
could be fired.
(more than 20,000 employees) adjusted employee contributions for health
benefits based on smoking habits.
Employers of all sizes offer incentives to quit smoking, exercise and
lose weight. Monetary incentives can
include reimbursements or discounts for gym membership, smoking cessation and
weight loss programs in addition to premium cost sharing adjustments. Employers have to rely on honest reporting to support these
efforts. Employees may be asked to
produce a receipt from a health club but they don’t punch in and out to record trips
to the gym. Weight loss is certainly
visible but employees are unlikely to be required to step on a scale at an
employee entrance. Workplace standards
of conduct should include a rule prohibiting falsification of information. Terminating employees for falsification is
common and justifiable. If an employee
provides creative information on one form can you trust the data that they give
for smoking. In this case their
falsification had also saved them money. The falsification could have cost
Whirlpool more in smoking related illness in addition to the premium dollars.
Maybe the employees had quit during open enrollment when they signed the form
but started smoking again last month. Whether or not you are required by law to restrict workplace
smoking you can adopt and enforce no-smoking policies. Violations could lead to termination. Do you think an employee will choose
cigarettes or a paycheck?