BRAIN FOOD: Workplace rights - Stubbing out smoking

BRAIN FOOD: Workplace rights - Stubbing out smoking - Three people die every day in the UK because of passive smoking at work, according to recent research. Small wonder the Government is coming under pressure from trade unions and pressure groups such as ASH, the anti-smoking charity, to act. It is now four years since the Health and Safety Commission mooted a code of practice requiring employers to take measures to protect workers from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Of course, many organisations already prohibit or restrict smoking, and there are compelling incentives for others to follow suit, not least the potential for health and safety claims from non-smokers. But what about the rights of smokers left fuming at the introduction of a ban? The imposition of an anti-smoking policy on them without consultation or reasonable notice could justify their resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. Smoke-free does not necessarily mean risk-free.

by Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin solicitors, e-mail:employment@lewissilkin.com
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Three people die every day in the UK because of passive smoking at work, according to recent research. Small wonder the Government is coming under pressure from trade unions and pressure groups such as ASH, the anti-smoking charity, to act. It is now four years since the Health and Safety Commission mooted a code of practice requiring employers to take measures to protect workers from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Of course, many organisations already prohibit or restrict smoking, and there are compelling incentives for others to follow suit, not least the potential for health and safety claims from non-smokers. But what about the rights of smokers left fuming at the introduction of a ban? The imposition of an anti-smoking policy on them without consultation or reasonable notice could justify their resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. Smoke-free does not necessarily mean risk-free.

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