Do you have a current smoking policy? If so, you may think that this will cover you with regard to the smoking of e-cigarettes. Unfortunately this is not the case!
The Health Act 2006 introduced a statutory prohibition on smoking in public places, including all offices and workplaces. However, the Act does not include the smoking of e-cigarettes and there is no legal requirement to ban them at work.
Therefore, for now, it's up to you, the employer, to decide how to tackle this issue. You may decide on a policy to ban the use of e-cigarettes altogether, or you may think that e-cigarettes are a helpful aid to stop smoking.
Below are some issues you may want to consider before forming a policy:
- It is in the interests of the employer to promote health and wellbeing in the workplace
- You may wish to support your employees to give up smoking - should this include allowing the use of e-cigarettes?
- The long term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown and may create an unpleasant environment for other staff members
There may be a concern that banning e-cigarettes completely may hinder those who are trying to stop smoking (its important to note here that if you restrict rather than ban
e-cigarettes you will need a clear policy on the usage).
According to Acas "Some experts have questioned the safety of chemicals used in e-cigarettes, and the British Medical Association (BMA) says that more research is needed
to establish the effectiveness and safety of the devices as a nicotine-replacement
Whatever your decision is, make sure you have clear written rules and policies about the smoking of e-cigarettes or you could find yourself facing a tribunal!
According to Stuart Jones, who is head of employment and pensions at Weightmans: "The recent case of Insley v Accent Catering, one of the first employment tribunal decisions to address this issue, considered whether an employer had acted fairly in taking disciplinary action against an employee for using an e-cigarette on a client's premises."
It is important that, once you have made your decision and written your policy, you consult with your employees. If you want a happy workforce, keep your employees updated with any new decisions made. If appropriate, you may wish to include your employees in the decision making?
If you would like to know more please contact Alan or Rita on 0115 896 7536 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org