UK firms could follow international ban on hiring smokers

UK employers are clear to follow an international ban on recruitment of smokers, according to employment lawyers.

Last week, the World Health Organization announced a ban on hiring smokers. It sought to justify the action in a memo to its 8,000 staff by stating it has a responsibility to ensure its aims are reflected in its recruitment practices.

According to employment lawyers Glovers, UK companies are clear to follow its lead by imposing a complete ban on the recruitment of smokers.

“A large number of UK employers have already instituted non-smoking offices, but there is nothing in English law to stop them going a step further and refusing to recruit smokers altogether,” said Tony Bourne, a partner at Glovers.

“As such a measure would apply to all potential employees, it could not be viewed as discrimination and could even be defended as a rigorous application of health and safety procedures.”

The law seeks to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of those things they have no control over, such as their ethnic background or gender.

“It does little to help them over issues which could be construed as ‘bad habits’,” Bourne said.

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