HR policy: Smoking in the workplace

Sun Mar 01 2020

Smoking in public areas is against the law. Smoking in the workplace puts employers at risk for violating health and safety laws. Smoking laws in the workplace apply to employers who have more than five workers. Smoking restrictions state that employees are not permitted to smoke inside a public building or in an outdoor area 20 feet of a main exit.

Make sure your employee handbook has a section regarding "Smoking in the Workplace." Make sure all of your employees are aware of the policies regarding smoking in the workplace; this can help you avoid potential litigations in the future. Employers are not required to make accommodations for smokers unless certain conditions are met. If there are five or fewer employees, employers can designate a room for smokers if all of the employees agree to it, if minors are restricted from the area, and if no employees are required to enter the smoking room.

It would be best to have a "designated area" for smokers. Employers can permit smoking in a particular area of the property, but the area must be clearly designated. In California, areas permitted for smoking cannot be in a common working area where everyone is required to be. Certain signs should be posted around the facility or office to ensure that employees are aware of the “no-smoking” policy.

Exercise progressive discipline to those employees who violate your company policy. Many employees take smoking policies very seriously so it’s important to make sure that everyone complies with the rules and regulations in your work environment. For employees who don’t abide by the rules, disciplinary actions should be taken (e.g., coaching & counseling and progressive discipline).

Need your employee handbook updated? We can help. Your employee handbook should be regularly updated to include new policies and procedures as well with new employment laws. Whether you have added new employees or have new policies that have been implemented, it’s important to ensure that the company’s policies are shared amongst everyone in the workplace.