It is now only a month until 1 July, when England goes smoke-free. There has been no shortage of publicity from the Government about the ban, as well as guidance for employers from a number of sources including ACAS. But various employment-related questions are still being asked. Here is our selection:
Do I have to provide a smoking shelter for employees who can’t give up?
No, but it may be a better option than employees congregating in the doorways to smoke. The Government’s guidance suggests that, if a shelter is provided, it must have at least three sides open to the elements and its location and design should first be discussed with the local authority.
Can I stop employees taking smoking breaks?
That depends on whether they have acquired a contractual right to take them. If so, you must treat that right like any other contractual term. Even if there is no contractual right you must act reasonably if you decide to take steps to phase them out.
What happens if an employee or visitor refuses to stop smoking?
Employees should be disciplined for smoking. Visitors will have to be asked to leave if they refuse to stop, if necessary with police help. Appropriate action needs to be taken, because those managing smoke-free offices commit a criminal offence if they fail to enforce the ban.
What about smoking in private cars used for business purposes?
There is an exemption if these cars are used “primarily for private purposes” but it can be difficult to work out where to draw the line if there is significant business use.