Can you enforce a break-time cigarette ban?

  • Employment Law
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Since July 2007, you’ve been able to tell your staff who smoke to take their habit outside. But what about taking it one step further, and banning your employees from smoking, even on their lunch breaks? What can you do? You can put together a policy that explains why you don’t permit smoking, even during an employee’s break time. If you’re challenged, you have to be able to explain how your smoke-free policy is reasonable. And your answer can’t be, “Because I don’t like it.” Picture this. You own a business that promotes healthy living and mental wellbeing. Your staff work directly with members of the public, helping them overcome addiction issues. This includes quitting smoking and addressing other health problems. One of your employees, wearing your uniform, is standing outside the entrance to your premises. And they’re smoking. They’re definitely not on brand. By taking a hard-line approach with an outright ban, it’s likely you’ll lose popularity with your staff. Instead, you could give staff a designated place to smoke away from plain sight. After all, a smoking shelter costs less than alienating your employees. Workplace wellbeing If you’re committed to improving the health of your employees, addressing smoking is one piece of the puzzle. You could have employees who smoke but are otherwise fit and active. There are plenty of ways to help your employees look after their wellbeing. Here are just a few:

  • Free fruit in your workplace
  • Offer your staff a gym subsidy
  • Encourage staff to use your employee assistance programme (EAP) to get physical and mental health support

If you remember anything from your schooldays, it’s that being forced to stop doing something makes you want to do it even more. You never know. A softer approach might be a better way to help them kick the habit for good.


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