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Vaping At Work Employment Tribunal Lights A Fuse

Posted on Thursday 19th February 2015 by Neil Andrews

So now it’s official: you can’t rely on legislation or traditional smoking policies to cover vaping at work.Neil Andrews - Partner, Coles Miller

Britain’s first employment tribunal ruling on smoking e-cigarettes at work went in favour of the employer.

Bosses shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security though. Here’s why not…

The employer (a catering firm) had threatened disciplinary action against a school catering assistant allegedly seen vaping at work in front of pupils.

Sounds cut and dried? Sounds simple enough? It isn’t.

The catering assistant resigned just before a planned disciplinary hearing – and then claimed constructive dismissal.

She lost – the tribunal ruled that the employer had acted correctly.

But here’s the worry. The catering assistant resigned – had she been dismissed, the tribunal said the school’s no-smoking policy could have opened the door to an unfair dismissal claim.

Current legislation on smoking still needs to catch up with e-cigarette technology. The law talks about substances being lit – but e-cigarette users breathe in a heated vapour.

Had the catering assistant not conveniently resigned, this case would have been more tricky and the outcome less certain.

Our advice is simple: employers should review their policies with immediate effect.

You need to be absolute certain that they cover vaping – and that you do not unwittingly fall foul of any other pitfalls in relation to this technology.

For expert advice, contact Coles Miller employment law solicitor Neil Andrews, 01202 673011.

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