Employers have no doubt found a rise in the number of their employees using electronic cigarettes in the first few months of 2015 with the inevitable New Year resolution to finally ‘kick the habit’.
Certainly there has been a substantial rise in the use of electronic cigarettes since smoking in public areas, including the workplace, was banned in 2006. The organisation Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), estimates that around 2.1 million adults currently use electronic cigarettes. This leads to a dilemma for employers about whether to permit employees to use electronic cigarettes at work.
The decision involves balancing a number of factors (see below), but what is key is for employers to ensure that a no smoking policy reflects any decision not to allow the use of electronic cigarettes at work.
This issue has hit the headlines recently in the case of Insley v Accent Catering. An employee brought a constructive dismissal claim against her employer who had called her to a disciplinary hearing in relation to 'vaping' (smoking an electronic cigarette at work) and bringing the employer into disrepute.