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Employers are becoming increasingly confused over smokers’ (and vapers’) rights!

Written by | Last Updated 04 November 2016

Employers are becoming increasingly confused over smokers’ (and vapers’) rights!

Even the glitziest, swankiest, coolest looking office lobby can be ruined by the stench of cigarette smoke wafting in from a cigarette butt littered forecourt.

It’s become part of the scenery, smokers huddled outside, in all weathers, puffing away like troopers. I was one of the worse cases you can imagine! I ended up smoking 80 cigarettes a day – I’m ashamed to admit it – as soon as one was put out – I’d light another. Sometimes I’d have two lit at the same time by accident.

Back in the days when people could smoke at their desks – offices were filled with smoke – especially mine. I never used to give a thought to the poor non-smokers amongst my colleagues. The attitude was very much one of “We’re allowed to smoke – so I will!”.

It’s only a decade or so since smoking in the workplace was banned – but already it seems inconceivable that such a state of affairs existed. How quickly we’ve taken for granted the clean air in the pubs, clubs, restaurants, and bars we frequent? Even football stadiums are now smoke-free.

Following the smoking bans employers breathed a sigh of relief – at least smoking was no longer their problem. But…the smoking bans spurned smoking breaks – a perceived entitlement amongst smokers – which in turn spurned resentment from non-smokers who quite rightly resented the extra breaks enjoyed by their smoking colleagues.

Smoking Guidance for Employers

  • According to law workers over 18 in the UK are only legally entitled to one type of break while at work – a rest break. This allows employees to have one uninterrupted 20-minute break, if they work for more than six hours. The break doesn’t have to be paid, and employers can decide when their staff take their rest break, as long as it is taken in one go, and at some point, during the middle of the shift.
  • Smoking isn’t permitted in any enclosed workplace in the UK and workplaces are not allowed to have staff smoking rooms. Unless your contract says so, you don’t have the right to take a smoking break at any time outside of your allotted break time. Workers can be fined up to £200 (or up to £50 in Scotland) for smoking in the workplace.
  • As far as e-cigarettes are concerned employers can decide whether or not to ban them.
  • Employers are not required to provide a smoking shelter – but must comply with legislation if they do so. Employees can smoke in a company car that only they use – as long as their employer agrees – but if the vehicle is shared with anyone then smoking is not allowed.
  • If you run business from home, and there is more than one person (who is not living there) who uses part of the dwelling solely as a place of work – that part must be smoke-free. It must also be smoke-free if members of the public attend to deliver or receive goods or services.
  • Residential care homes and hospices can offer smoking rooms, but these can only be used by residents. These rooms must be well ventilated and smoke must not get into other rooms.
  • Businesses who don’t stop people from smoking in the workplace can be fined up to £2,500.

Anyway, everything kind of settled down, with acceptance on all sides, but very few employers looked at the bottom line effect of smoking breaks. Added all together the cost of employing a smoker is many thousands of pounds a year more than employing a non-smoker. Lost productivity as a result of smoking breaks and increased absences from work due to sickness are only part of the picture.

It’s not only productivity that improves when an employer helps their staff to quit smoking, there are also huge health and well-being benefits enjoyed by the former smoker, harmony between smoking and non-smoking colleagues, and that wonderful improvement that only the absence of fag butts on the pavement and the reek of smoke in the reception area can achieve.

Read more about ‘How to Stop Smoking’

Read more about ‘How to Stop Vaping’

Read more about ‘Our Workplace Programmes’

Read more about workplace smoking rules in ‘The Liverpool Echo’

From the desk of John Dicey, Worldwide CEO & Senior Therapist, Allen Carr’s Easyway

#QuitSmoking #StopSmoking #BeAddictionFree #AllenCarr #QuitVaping #StopVaping