E-cigarettes in the workplace – Does your business have a policy?

E-cigarettes are increasingly in the news, whether it is over the potential risks, health scares or the recent legislation putting limits on both size and packaging of the products. These replacement for cigarettes are causing a lot of discussion, but has your business thought about how and if they should be used on your premises?

It’s time to decide whether or how employees can use E-cigarettes, personal vaporizers (PVs), and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in your workplace.

Although these devices fall outside the scope of smoke free legislation, as the act of smoking requires a substance to be burnt, there is more to consider in terms of your employees than just the burning of a substance.

What are the implications for the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace?

  • Although e-cigarettes do not emit smoke as such, the vapours, which can often have flavoured aromas, can be an annoyance to other members of staff and create an unpleasant environment.
  • The appearance of some devices, looking similar to real cigarettes may cause others to believe that smoking is allowed in the workplace, or put in an argument to permit smoking as well as e-cigarettes.
  • The long-term effects of using e-cigarettes are also not known. There may be consequences from passive smoking for other staff, which could put them at risk.
  • There is also the case that, as many use these devices as a way to stop or reduce smoking, even if they are banned from the workplace and only allowed in shelters or designated areas outside, these should be separate from smoking areas in order to support these members of staff to stop or reduce smoking.

Just as you have policies on smoking, alcohol and dangerous substances in the workplace, there must be a clear policy on the use of e-cigarettes and similar devices.

What should your e-cigarettes policy contain?

You must make the rules clear to all employees, whether you decide to ban the use entirely or have specific areas for e-cigarettes.

If you decide to permit the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace, it is good practice to include guidelines such as staff notifying their line managers of their use, where and when it is appropriate to use them, and so on. This controls any unauthorised or excessive taking of smoking or E-smoking breaks, and make it clear that any smoking of cigarettes or E-cigarettes in a prohibited area at work will result in disciplinary action.

To find out more about the use of e-cigarettes and HR Policies in the workplace, contact us today for more information

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