I know many of you have likely already beat me to reading the latest edition of Workforce magazine — the publication devoted to important trends for human resources professionals — but I want to mention anyway that there’s a piece that follows up on Baylor Health Care System’s policy of not hiring anyone who uses tobacco products.
That ban went into effect in January 2012. Previously Baylor had required that employees who were smokers pay a surcharge for their health care insurance, an extra $25 a pay period. When I discussed the change with Baylor CEO Joel Allison shortly before it was made, he said “We’re in the healthcare business, so we want people to practice good health” and noted that ”Five percent of the population uses up about 50 percent of the health care cost.”
Well, how has it worked out for Baylor? According to the article:
Anyone with a preliminary employment offer goes through drug screening, which includes nicotine screening. The test will detect any kind of nicotine product, including cigarettes, a nicotine patch, nicotine gum and e-cigarettes. So far, 69 of about 400 offers have been rescinded, she says, and there is no evidence Baylor is losing out on top-notch talent because of the screening.
Testing is possible because nicotine users are not a protected legal class in Texas. Currently 29 states and the District of Columbia offer legal protection to smokers, according to the American Lung Association.
Employees already working for the company weren’t required to quit smoking to keep their jobs, but they continue to pay the surcharge.
According to a report by the American Lung Association, employees who smoke cost employers an average of $1,429 more in health care costs than nonsmokers.