Employers need to address problems like stress and poor office design that could make their staff ill, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have said.
In its submission to Dame Carol Black's review of the health of the working age population, the TUC says that employers' attempts to encourage healthy living are most effective when they look at how work can contribute to or cause lifestyle problems.
But the TUC also warns against employers moralising over lifestyle issues. So while it suggests good employers may wish to assist any employees who have an addiction problem that is affecting them or their work, it says employers should not attempt to interfere in what employees do outside the office if it has no bearing on what goes on at work.
It is the working environment that often makes staff ill or unhealthy, the union argues, and workplaces with poorly managed workloads or where bullying is rife can increase employees' stress levels.
However, the TUC believes that proper work-life balance policies can go a long way towards encouraging a healthier lifestyle.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "The workplace can, like any other environment, be a useful place to encourage people to make healthy choices, but it must be done in a nonjudgemental way.
"Employers should be creating opportunities so that staff can make healthier choices should they so chose, rather than try to force them to adopt a particular lifestyle that has no bearing on how they do their jobs."