Smoking in company vehicles

28 November 2019

Under UK, law smoking isn’t allowed in any enclosed workplace, meaning you must generally prevent their staff from smoking at work.

However, there can sometimes be confusion around employees’ right to smoke inside a company vehicle.

We explain everything you need to know about this issue below. But if you need immediate assistance with anything related to smoking policies at work, get in touch: 0800 028 2420.

Is it illegal to smoke in a company vehicle?

It depends. Current smoking in company vehicle legislation forbids employees from doing this if they’re in a car used by one or more individual. That includes:

  • Taxis.
  • Buses.
  • Vans.
  • Company cars shared between multiple employees.

A worker can smoke in a company car that only they use, so long as you agree to it.

However, many employers frown on the practice and expect staff to refrain from smoking at all times during work unless they are in an open environment.

But you still may have employees asking, “Can you smoke in a company vehicle?”

To help clarify this, you can consider introducing a smoking in company vehicle policy will help you outline their approach by laying down important ground rules for staff to follow.

While you’re free to decide on a stance to take, it’s common for businesses to prevent staff from smoking in vehicles at all times.

 This is for a host of reasons, such as ongoing damage to the interior of the car—the smell of tobacco can linger on the vehicle’s seats. Removing that may prove difficult and costly.

As well as maintaining a workplace policy, there’s a legal requirement to install ‘no smoking’ signs in company vehicles as a reminder to staff.

Regular inspections of company vehicles should also go some way to deterring smokers and preventing individuals from breaking the law.

Fines for smoking in company vehicles

It’s possible you may face a fine of up to £2,500 if you don’t stop staff from smoking in the workplace—or up to £1,000 if you fail to display ‘no smoking’ signs.

It may be possible for you to fine staff if you catch them smoking in company vehicles, as firms can deduct money from staff salaries for misconduct. That’s providing they give their prior written consent.

This is why many businesses include specific clauses detailing this right in their employment contracts.

It’s also worth noting that deductions, which relate to misconduct, will be excluded from National Minimum Wage (NMW) obligations.

This means it will be acceptable to deduct an employee’s salary below NMW limits when they are liable and this won’t result in punitive action from HM Revenue and Customs.

Is smoking in a company vehicle gross misconduct?

Although it’s possible to dismiss an employee for smoking in a company vehicle, this is unlikely to qualify as gross misconduct.

For it to apply, their behaviour must usually destroy the relationship of trust and confidence between you and the employee.

Instead, you’ll likely have to abide by the multiple warning procedures detailed within the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures, under which employees can face dismissal following multiple acts of misconduct.

Of course, those with less than two years’ service are unable to claim unfair dismissal, so dismissing these staff members would be straightforward.

However, it’s still important to complete a full investigation into any alleged incident beforehand and provide the individual with the opportunity to appeal.  

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