Health Insurance Costs Versus Privacy
Computers by Design (CBD) is a small computer systems business in the Midwest. As a small business, the owners are aware of the steadily increasing costs of health care insurance. To control costs, the owners decide only to hire people who are physically fit and have a good health background. They have formulated a two-step program that includes pre-employment screenings and a 12-month notice to stop using tobacco and non-prescription drugs. This paper will discuss the legal issues involved with pre-employment screenings. It will also cover the topics of unions, collective bargaining, and occupational safety and health.
The 14th Amendment is the legal foundation that protects employees from unreasonable searches and seizures (Bennett-Alexander, 2007). Although privacy laws protect employees, it is important to check how state laws define pre-employment screenings before implementing a business strategy. In the CBD case, the exact location is not listed; therefore, I will use Illinois as the state to explain the current laws for drug and alcohol testing. Presently, there is no federal law protecting smokers against discrimination, some states have passed laws that do. Illinois is not one of these states.
In 2004, Illinois passed the Smoke-free Illinois Act which ???prohibits smoking in virtually all public places and workplaces, including offices, theaters, museums, libraries, educational institutions, schools, commercial establishments, enclosed shopping centers and retail stores, restaurants, bars, private clubs and gaming facilities??? (Illinois Department of Public Health, 2010). In Illinois more than 24,000 people die from smoking each year and 2,900 people die from secondhand smoke (Illinois Department of Public Health, 2010). In 2003, the state statistics for drug abuse reports about ???16% of adult Illinois residents need substance abuse treatment, and that more than 90% of them (1.4 million) do not receive treatment (Center for Health and Justice, 2010).
Laws against discriminating against genetic predisposition are illegal. Human Resources and privacy are synonymous when working with employees and all company driven issues. Privacy goes both ways. When an employee has a medical or financial issue that causes him to go to HR, this information needs to be sent back to the department in a way to protect that employee??™s privacy. Medical issues are the most sensitive. According to Krell, ???The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) includes rules protecting the security and privacy of the employee health data.??? Limiting access of the medical statements becomes priority, and only the HR department needs to have access to track for leave purposes.
According to Cohen there are two categories of employee control; Measures and monitoring and Behavioral. Measures and monitoring include email, computer, drug testing, searching of person, etc. With Behavioral, the company is concerned with drug use, smoking restrictions, weight and physical fitness and even personal relationships restrictions. Companies are trying to receive the most out of every dollar, and having healthy employees that do not have large health costs is one way to do this.? Weyco, Inc., a Michigan based employee Benefits Company in Okemos, Michigan, banned smoking for its employees and their spouses (Cohen, 2007). Companies are finding that healthier employees are better workers.
The key to having policies are specific as the one for Weyco, is the documentation and implementation of the process. Once the policy is implemented it is used consistently within the company, no exceptions. For a policy to affect everyone, there needs to be guidelines to disseminate if there is going to a probationary period, what, if any assistance the company would offer, and if there would be any exceptions. The second part of the policy would address the disciplinary actions, what levers, and if after a number of occurrences that job termination would be the final step. With many states having At-Will employment, employers could terminate employees for any reason but having legal documentation to back up any challenge is the best approach. Unemployment is also a company expense and having proper documentations of challenges will keep this expense low as well.
Occupational Safety and Health
Federal laws protect workers in regards to occupational safety and health. The workplace should be free of hazards that cause workplace injury and death. Employees should be operating safe equipment and tools. OSHA provides the oversight to ensure the workplace is a safe environment. As stated earlier, the HR manager is required to identify and prevent unnecessary expenses in the HR arena. HR managers also ensure no employee is discriminated against for reporting OSHA violations. Finance managers are concerned with the expenses incurred for meeting OSHA standards in the workplace. First line leaders keep themselves up-to-date on OSHA compliance and incorporate routine safety training. They maintain safety logs of compliance and report any violations.
Bennett-Alexander, D. D., & Hartman, L. P. (2007). Employment law for business. 5th Edition.
New York: McGraw-Hill.
Center for Health and Justice. (2010). Cost effectiveness of substance abuse treatment. Retrieved
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Cohen, C. (2010). On-duty and Off-duty: Employee Right to Privacy and Employer??™s
Right to Control in the Private Sector. Retrieved November 8, 2010 from from the
University of Phoenix Library from EBSCO host.
Illinois Department of Public Health. (2010). Smoke-free Illinois. Retrieved November 8, 2010
Krell, E. (2010). Privacy Matters. Safeguarding employees privacy requires an effective policy,
sound practices and ongoing communication. Retrieved November 8, 2010 from the
University of Phoenix Library from EBSCO host.