When it comes to your performance at the workplace, your employer has every right to comment. But what if your lifestyle influences your performance? Has your employer the right to tell you off?
Since 2004, every Dutch company is required by law to provide their employees a smoke-free working environment. In the UK this has been in effect since 2007. Overall, this law has been greeted with open arms. However, to what extend can your boss influence the health state of your workplace?
From an employer’s perspective, the reasons to stimulate healthy living is obvious. Healthy people are more productive, efficient and less absent.
Many companies offer free fruit in the office, removed the fried items from the lunch menu and some even give health club subscriptions as a company benefit. These are all things that seem to be unobtrusive, or are they? It is a topic that’s perhaps complicated to discuss, because should you tell your employer to stop interfering in your health?
Fair to comment?
When your health influences the way you do your job, then an employer has every right to say something about it. Certain jobs require a certain body shape, but sometimes it is all about image. So, where to draw the line? For a sports brand it can be important that its employees are physically active and thus in good shape. For an airline it is important that the cabin crew can squeeze through the narrow parts of the plane. But when someone’s appearance doesn’t fit the company’s image, can an employer criticize the employee?
What can you do?
Let’s reverse the situation, what if an employee wants to work in a more health stimulating working environment, what are your rights? In the Netherlands the employee can make suggestions to management. The company is by law required to take this into active consideration as part of good employment.