Smokers’ rights and employment law...

Smokers’ rights and employment law

Smoking is banned under the Health Act 2006 in any enclosed workplace, public building or on public transport in the UK. Due to public policy and the general acceptance of workplace smoking bans, it is highly unlikely that an employee would have any rights to smoke at work. 


Are smokers legally entitled to breaks?

Smokers are not entitled to any extra smoking breaks in addition to their usual permitted breaks under any contract or under the Working Time Regulations. Workers over the age of 18 are entitled to 3 types of breaks under the regulations, rest breaks at work, daily rest and weekly rest.


Workers have the right to a 20 minute uninterrupted rest break if they work more than 6 hours in a day, this does not have to be paid. A workers contract could stipulate that they are entitle to a long break than this, or that it is paid.  


Can your employer stop you from taking a cigarette break during work hours?

Given the above, employers can stipulate that employees only take breaks in a working day in line with the statutory rest breaks provided (or the contractual allowance).


Does your employer have to supply a smoking area at the office?

Employers do not have to provide outdoor smoking areas, nor do they have to allow smoking on their premises at all. Some employers even prevent employees from smoking on pavements outside the workplace.


What about e-cigarettes or vaping?

Whilst e-cigarettes and vaping are not covered by the statutory ban itself, employers are able to introduce these into the ban through policies and procedures as part of their no-smoking policy in the workplace.

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