Smokers’ rights

What are an employee's rights on smoking within the work day? i.e. Are they entitled to specified breaks?

Smokers have no rights to a break under statute in i.e. the law of the land. They may well have rights given to them by you in your contractual terms – i.e. you have allowed them breaks morning and afternoon for that purpose. Therefore if you propose to change the contract you will need to negotiate with your employees.

Smoking in enclosed premises, where people work, has been banned in Scotland since Spring 2006, in Jersey since Jan 07; in Wales and Northern Ireland since 2 April 2007 and in England since 1st July 2007.

If non-smokers do not benefit from such breaks then it may be that they actually work a longer day than do smokers – which may cause friction in the workplace. If smokers have to leave the workplace to have a smoke, this may not be practicable. Therefore consider the problem and your preferred solution and talk to your staff.

Also see: How to manage smoke breaks at work

Adam Wayland

Adam Wayland

Adam was Editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2006 to 2008 and prior to that was staff writer on sister publication BusinessXL Magazine.

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