Shape up or ship out

Jan 28 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The boss of a US company who forced his employees to give up smoking or quit their job has turned his attention to the waistlines of his workforce, warning oversize staff to lose weight or face the consequences.

Four employees at Michigan-based health insurer Weyco quit their jobs last week after owner Howard Weyers banned tobacco use at home or at work and insisted that staff take a mandatory urine test.

"If they don't want to take the test, they can leave," Weyers said. "I'm not controlling their lives; they have a choice whether they want to work here."

Now Weyers has brought in eating disorder therapists and devised a bonus system that gives staff a $45 monthly voucher for health club membership and other bonuses if they meet fitness targets.

"The goal is to encourage employees to become healthier and to increase their ability to accomplish more, both personally and professionally," he said.

But luckily for his workforce, incentives are all that Mr Weyers can use in his battle to fight the flab. Because while forcing out smokers with tests to detect tobacco is legal in the USA. firing people for being fat is not.