Tue 3 February, 2015
The use of e-cigarettes in the workplace remains a burning issue for employers.
The dilemma facing companies is whether to ban the battery-operated cigarette substitute.
Due to the cost of a packet of cigarettes and alarming health warnings, the vapour producing devices have soared in popularity as more and more smokers bid to kick the habit.
Smoking in public places was outlawed in 2006, but e-cigarettes escape the ban as they produce a vapour, rather than traditional smoke.
An employee drawing on the mouthpiece while sitting at their desk could prove a serious annoyance to colleagues – and cause a headache for employers.
The vapour emitted can create an unpleasant environment and prove irritating to fellow workers.
It is currently up to the employer to decide if they wish to impose a complete ban inside the workplace.
The introduction of any such measure is likely to force users to take an e-cigarette break out on the pavement with their tobacco-burning workmates.
Businesses should draw up clear rules about the use of the devices at work, and when and where they can be used.
The need for clear guidance on the subject was highlighted during the recent tribunal ruling in the case of Insley v Accent Catering.
A school catering assistant faced disciplinary action for using an e-cigarette on school premises, resigned and lodged a constructive dismissal claim.
The claim was rejected but it was highlighted the school ran the risk of an unfair dismissal claim as its smoking policy did not prohibit the use of the e-cigarettes.
Last year the World Health Organisation said legal steps should be taken to stub out the use of e-cigarettes indoors - both in public spaces and in work places.
A campaigning public health charity said there was no evidence of any harm to bystanders and warned any regulation needed to be proportionate.