Monday, 18 June 2007

English Smoking ban an excuse to ban cigarette breaks

A report is warning, that many employers, may be planning to use the July 1 smoking ban in England, as an excuse to crack down on workers taking cigarette breaks.

It was warned that such a move could spark disputes and/or result in desperate employees being forced to secretly smoke in the workplace.

The report, by law advisors Consult GEE, surveyed employers - apparently over a 3rd are planning to use July’s ban on smoking in public places as an excuse to ban cigarette breaks.

Stuart Chamberlain of Consult GEE warned:

"Employees will struggle to fight any bans on their smoking breaks because they are not entitled to them. It could be that they try to claim a breach of the Working Time Regulations, which grants staff working for a minimum of six hours a day 20 minutes break. However, it will prove difficult for an employee to succeed in the employment tribunal with such a claim."

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) felt that banning smoke breaks could be regarded as "excessive".

It would seem draconian for an employer to attempt to stop an employee having a smoke in the breaks they are actually entitled to.

Also one has to wonder what the likely resulting impact on customer relations would be when employees become less relaxed when dealing with any customer – let alone a difficult one.

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