Everyone knows smoking is prohibited in the workplace, but what about e-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular and are being branded as the ‘healthy’ alternative to smoking. Whilst they may be heralded as a positive aid to help people quit smoking, are they allowed in the workplace?
Paula Stuart of Geoffrey Leaver Solicitors advises that “The Health Act 2006, prohibited smoking in the workplace in the UK. E-cigarettes are not covered by this legislation and, at present, the law does not prohibit e-cigarettes in the workplace. Therefore it is up to each employer to decide whether to allow them or not.”
So should they be allowed?
Paula says “Employers may see e-cigarettes as an opportunity to avoid ‘smoking breaks’, however, the vapour emitted from e-cigarettes looks like smoke and there is still a great deal of uncertainty regarding the health issues and whether anyone can suffer harm by passive smoking. With this uncertainty employers may leave themselves vulnerable to a claim for any harm that may be caused due to passive smoking if they do not address the issue.”
So what should an employer do?
Paula recommends that “the first step is to decide whether you want to allow e-cigarettes and then to create a policy. If e-cigarettes are to be banned then the simplest way is to state that e-cigarettes fall within the company’s Anti-Smoking Policy and are not permitted in the workplace. If you wish to allow them then it is to devise a policy to state what restrictions apply to their use.”
If you need any help with this or any other employment matter then please call Paula Stuart on 01908 689345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.