Electronic cigarettes look like the real thing but contain a
rechargeable battery and a liquid that contains nicotine. Vaping is
when you inhale the vapour produced when the battery heats up.
With a rise in sales, and public and medical opinion very
divided, e-cigarettes have the potential to become a smoking gun in
SHOULD EMPLOYERS ALLOW VAPING AT WORK?
There is currently no law covering the use of e-cigarettes,
although if it is introduced in the UK or Europe (expected in
2016), Jersey and Guernsey may do likewise.
In the absence of legislation, it is for each employer to
determine their own policy. The size of your organisation and the
type of work may be determining factors for your policy, as well as
how many vapers you have in your workforce.
Vaping is the type of issue on which you could consult before
determining a policy. This could be done by way of an anonymous
However, if you consult, you need to be prepared to provide
feedback at the end of the consultation and if it transpires that
the majority wish vaping to be permitted, you need to have a good
idea as to how you will manage the minority who do not want it.
Most employers will be concerned that if they permit vaping, it
will split the workforce and distract or upset the non-vapers, and
accordingly decide to ban it.
Employers may decide that vaping does not fit with their
corporate image and ban it. If so, this needs to be communicated
clearly to staff (who must appreciate that a breach could mean that
disciplinary action may follow), but also to clients or suppliers
attending the workplace.
If the work involves any contact with children, an outright ban
If you have a number of staff who are currently smokers but who
have taken up vaping with the intention of trying to give up, you
may decide to support them by allowing vaping on a trial basis
(possibly for 6 months) and then review.
If you permit it, you need to communicate where within your
workplace the vaping can take place and, also, that any time spent
vaping will be monitored. Those vaping should not have any
additional break time in order to vape, as this would be unfair to
Allowing vaping, even on a trial basis, is a potentially risky
strategy as it could ignite a personal dispute.
IF A WORK COLLEAGUE LIGHTS UP AN E-CIGARETTE IN THE OFFICE,
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
You could politely ask the vaper to stop at work because you
find it unpleasant or distracting.
If they continue, you could consult others working close by, or
the vaper's manager, to see how they feel. If there is a
consensus that it is offensive, the vaper should be informed, and
told that if they ignore this informal request, the matter will be
taken to the next level.
If the vaping continues, a grievance procedure will need to be
implemented, forcing your employer to take action and make a
WHAT ABOUT AT SOCIAL EVENTS?
Employers may be able to adopt a more flexible approach, and be
seen to support any vapers who are genuinely trying to give up
If there are others vaping at the same venue it would seem
unreasonable to insist that your staff refrain.
Prior to booking next year's Christmas bash, you may wish to
ask whether the venue permits vaping, so that it does not become an
argument on the night.
If the public view becomes that vaping is as socially
unacceptable as smoking, we may well see vaping bans and areas
specifically designated for vapers.
INTRODUCING A POLICY
If you require any advice on how to introduce a policy, or how
to respond to breaches of a policy (contractual or non
contractual), the Collas Crill employment team will be pleased to
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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