Employment experts The HR Dept are advising clients on the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace after receiving an unprecedented amount of enquiries on the subject.
Since e-cigarettes landed on UK shelves, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people using electronic devices. These devices fall outside of legislation that bans smoking in public places such as the workplace. This has naturally caused quite a stir amongst health officials such as the British Medical Association (BMA), doctors, as well as employers and employees.
Employers are well within their rights to ban e-cigarettes being used in the workplace and only permitting the use of them in designated smoking areas on their premises. It is all too easy for an employee to claim that it was an e-cigarette they were merrily puffing on in the company van when faced with a disciplinary. These rules should also be applied when employees visit the premises of a customer or supplier when using a company vehicle as they are representing the company.
Although the devices do not produce smoke, they can still pose a health and safety risk particularly with a spark igniting flammable material.
The HR Dept comments ‘It seems we all need to update our ‘No Smoking’ signs as well as our policies. Most employers will probably veto allowing employees to use e-cigarettes anyway in the workplace as it creates confusion and sends the wrong signal out to staff. Our advice to employers is to speak to The HR Dept to amend their No Smoking at Work policies to ban the use of e-cigarettes.’
The HR Dept recommends that employers treat the rules around using e-cigarettes in the exact same way as the smoking ban legislation that came into effect in July 2007 to avoid any ambiguity.
The HR Dept specialises in advising small and medium sized businesses on all employment issues.