This is a hot topic at the moment and case law (Insley v Accent Catering ET/3200687/2014) would suggest that employers be proactive and ensure they have relevant policies & procedures in place, furthermore they need to be supported by clear rules and outline the consequences of not following them. It would appear that dismissal for the use of an e-cigarette without having relevant policies in place is likely to amount to being unfair.
As “vaping’’ becomes more popular as an alternative to smoking cigarettes and tobacco, both employers and employees are finding themselves in unfamiliar territory; currently e-cigarettes fall outside the scope of the ‘’smoke free legislation’’ and as such not many employers have incorporated the use of them into their smoking policy.
It is also about the image that’s portrayed by the business to both employees and visitors; without clear guidelines employees may assume it is acceptable to use these items within the work environment and from a distance they can look like a real cigarette. There is nothing as yet to evidence the effect of the vapour and whether it is harmful or not; employees will have their own views on this and allowing the use of e-cigarettes within the workplace environment may cause offence and trigger grievances which are time consuming so make it clear from the outset.
As an employer, decide on what you believe is acceptable or not in respect of e-cigarettes and the impact they may have on your business and then reflect this in your smoking policy and disciplinary rules.
Contact Jude Read-HR Consultancy for provision of a Smoking Policy