The position on smoking inside offices has been clear for years now – it’s simply not allowed. What’s less clear is the situation with employees who vape using e-cigarettes.
The UK ban on smoking inside buildings does not extend to electronic smoking devices and this means it is down to an employer to decide whether to allow vaping on work premises. In making such a decision, an employer needs to consider what’s best for both their vaping and non-vaping work population.
But how can an employer assess the best stance to take in this potential minefield? Here are a few ideas that might help you come to a decision that works for your business.
Ask your employees what they want
The starting point has to be to ask your workforce what they would like. If you have a smaller number of employees you can canvas opinion face to face; with a larger business you can use online polling tools such as Survey Monkey or email voting. How ever you go about it, be transparent and go with the majority view. If everyone has had a chance to give their opinion it’s difficult to argue with the final result.
Consider your work environment
Look around your office and think about the most practical solution. Do you have a separate space that could be designated for vaping? Or is it easy for employees to go outside?
What impression will your customers get?
You should also think about the impression you want to give your customers. Do customers come to your premises for meetings or to buy goods and services? If they do, you may want to think about where your employees go to vape. For example, a space near your front entrance may not be the best place. However, if customers don’t come to your offices this may not need to be a consideration.
Position your policy as a support programme
Evidence suggests that a large number of people who use electronic smoking devices do so because they are trying to quit smoking. The generally held belief is that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking and is an effective tool to help smokers give up cigarettes. Indeed, a new government committee has been set upto explore what the benefits of vaping are.
Positioning your vaping policy as a support programme for ex-smokers may garner more support from the non-smoking population, who may also be keen to help their work colleagues adopt healthier habits.
What impact will your vaping policy have on productivity?
Employees are generally entitled to breaks during the working day, depending on the number of hours they work. However, smokers often take extra breaks to go out for cigarettes which can have an effect on productivity.
If you implement a support programme to encourage smokers to move to e-cigarettes instead you may see a positive impact on productivity if they do not need to leave the workplace to vape.
Whatever your final decision, taking all considerations into account, it’s important that you clearly communicate your policy to all your employees and make sure it’s easy for them to follow.
Talk to an expert
Anthony Jones are at the forefront of vaping insurance and, as such, understand the implications of vaping more than most. If you would like some advice either about vaping in the workplace or your business insurance, please get in touch.