HR · 19 November 2018

Can I ban my staff from smoking on their break at work?

smoking ban
When constructing a policy, you should outline exactly why you want to prevent employees from smoking on their breaks
After a local authority banned its employees from smoking during working hours Kate Palmer, associatedirector of advisory at Peninsula, explains what employers need to know about workplace smoking bans.

Last week, Dundee City Council announced a ban on staff smoking or vaping during working hours. The decision has had mixed reviews with some welcoming the ban as a way to protect the health of staff whilst others viewing it as an attack on people who smoke.

Smoking at work can be a contentious issue at times and whilst an indoor smoking ban has been in place since July 2007, some employers may look to go a step further and impose a ban on staff smoking outside during their designated break time.

Generally speaking, as an employer you can implement rules you find suitable for your industry or organisation, including smoking, by way of a well-constructed workplace policy. However, when challenged you may have to show that any “smoke-free” policy is reasonable.

Why do you want to impose a ban?

When constructing a policy, you should outline exactly why you want to prevent employees from smoking on their breaks. This might be for the benefit of the company’s image, particularly if the employee works in a customer facing role. Either way, it is important to be able to rely on a valid reason for any ban, which is not simply your own personal dislike of the practice.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Kate Palmer CIPD is the head of advisory at law firm Peninsula and is a member of its senior leadership team. She joined in 2009 having held a senior HR manager's role in another large company. With a specialist background in facilities management in the NHS, Kate offers a wealth of employment law experience. She's an expert negotiator - one notable case was with the NHS's trade unions over terms and conditions in the Agenda for Change pay system.

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