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Job Application Question: What is Your BMI?

Job Application Question: What is Your BMI?

In an uncertain economy company’s scrutinizing how it spends its money on labor and benefit costs is commonplace today. The annual rising cost of health insurance is a strain for any company’s bottom line causing creative thinking in how to save money.  Cost containment initiatives coupled with being in an industry that serves the public’s health creates special complexities.

The healthcare industry not only seeks to motivate employees who may have poor health habits and issues but also serves patients who may have the same issues. To address these complexities, the healthcare industry has already introduced the idea of banning smokers from working within their facilities.

Going a step further on raising employment standards, a recent report that a healthcare company in Texas has adopted a body mass index (BMI) standard for prospective employees. According to the report employees who have a BMI higher than 35 are denied employment.  Help is offered to existing employees who may have a BMI higher than 35.

Like most things, there is more than one factor to consider.   Here are pros and cons of requiring job seekers to reveal their BMI scores.

Pros:

  1. This will enable employers the ability to better control health insurance utilization costs,
  2. This standard will potentially improve the health of the workforce, positively affecting productivity, morale and engagement,
  3. It is better to influence customers in healthy habits, through being a role model.

Cons:

  1. While being “over weight” is not part of a protected class, having a medical condition is protected.  The line is thin between the two,
  2. Placing this ban on potential employment candidates might make it tougher to find skilled talent,
  3. Adopting a “no fat” hiring rule might have a negative public relations outcome.

You be the judge: Should employers adopt BMI standards for employment purposes?

 

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Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, FACHE, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry. Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite (www.hrcsuite.com). HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result. She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.

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One Comment


  1. Having been involved in healthcare plan design and administration I understand the logic of using BMI scores. However, BMI does not take into consideration the weight or muscle which can mean a very fit individual has a high BMI score. At the same time while we focus on a high BMI, we also need to look at a low BMI as also being a concern.

    Personally I lean towards a ratio of height to waist measurement.

    I also believe that obesity can be considered as protected.

    Finally while many companies have a tendency to focus on what is visually obvious, such as weight and smoking, they fail to look at what is not obvious yet also extremely costly, such as blood pressure, Ldl, cardiovascular, diabetes, etc.

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