The mounting debate about the use of e-cigarettes reflects their growing popularity and availability in the UK. Whilst their use does not currently fall within the scope of current legislation, many employers would choose to restrict their use in the workplace.
The recent tribunal ruling in the case of Insley v Accent Catering should serve as a cautionary tale to any employer who has not provided clear guidance to their employees by including e-cigarettes within their smoking policies. In this particular case, the claim was for constructive dismissal (not upheld) by a catering assistant working at a school who was seen smoking an e-cigarette on the school’s premises. Whilst the school’s no-smoking policy specifically prohibited smoking within its premises, it did not include the use of e-cigarettes which was considered gross misconduct.
Whilst the provisions of the European Commission’s Tobacco Products and Directive (to be part of UK law by May 2016) may serve to bring greater regulation, it is essential that employers update their policies to include e-cigarettes.
- Make it clear whether their use is banned or restricted;
- Ensure your policy is made clear to employees and visitors to your premises;
- Make it clear that disciplinary action may be taken if appropriate;
- Ensure employees are clear on the amount/length of smoking breaks allowed;
- Consider providing separate areas for cigarette smokers and e-cigarette users;
- Provide guidance to employees on support for stopping smoking.
For more information, or help with setting up your company handbook, speak to a Park City HR expert today.