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Smoking Policy – Time to Update for E-Cigarettes

schoolE-cigarettes are becoming more and more popular and, as is common when an innovation occurs, the law struggles to keep up.

In a recent case, the Employment Tribunal (ET) had to consider a claim for constructive dismissal brought by a school canteen worker who contended that her employer was wrong to bring disciplinary proceedings against her for smoking an e-cigarette in view of the pupils before she started work in the morning.

The disciplinary proceedings were brought after the headteacher of the school complained to the firm that employed her.

The woman resigned before the disciplinary hearing, which was to decide if her ‘vaping’ at work was a serious enough offence to justify dismissal. The school’s smoking policy had not been updated to include e-cigarettes, which are not covered by anti-smoking laws.

Because she had resigned before any decision had been made on whether or not her behaviour could constitute misconduct serious enough to warrant dismissal, the woman’s claim failed. The ET noted, however, that had she been dismissed, the school’s smoking policy would have had an impact on the decision.

The best way to deal with any problem is to prevent it arising. We can help you to update your employment policies and contractual terms to take account of innovations such as the above as well as any changes in employment law.