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Hong Kong manager faces dilemma on firing new joiner who smokes


With raising concerns about second-hand smoke, Hong Kong has put the smoking ordinance in effect since 2007, banning smoking in all indoor areas including offices. However, there has not been any regulations on employees smoking outside the workplace.

In a post on Hong Kong Discussion Group, a manager said he regretted hiring an employee who is capable but loves to smoke.  He said the new hire is the only smoker on the team and the smell of cigarette is unbearable to other co-workers.

The poster added he didn’t realise the colleague who is still in his probation period is a smoker during the recruitment process.

In search for a solution, the manager asked netizens if he could make the worker switch to the less repelling e-cigarettes, and whether he should fire him if he refuses to do so.

As expected, the post sparks a heated debate on the internet, here's what netizens have to say.

Many, including some self-proclaimed non-smokers, think that smoking is a personal choice which is beyond the boss’s control.   As long as the worker smokes in his or her own time and it doesn’t affect job performance, it is none of the boss's business.

Some accused the poster of discriminating against smokers, while others claimed whether second-hand smoke smells bad or not is merely a personal feeling, hinting the manager and team members are overreacting.

On the other hand,  there are respondents to post who think the worker should be fired outright for making others feel uncomfortable.

Other readers of the post who are less judgmental suggested the manager should talk to the smoker that habit has became a distraction for the team, and he needs to come up with a solution to get rid of the smell.

Other suggestions include offering gums and installing an air purifier in the office.

Interestingly, a fair amount of comments criticised the poster for his lack of ability to deal with the situation and resorting to the internet to help him.

Managers, what would you do if you were in this situation?

ALSO READ: The top 10 irritating workplace habits

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