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Smoking in the pharmacy

NPA Essential

Smoking in the pharmacy

Fraser Vandal, Employment Law Adviser at NPA Business Partner, Ellis Whittam, looks at the law surrounding smoking in the workplace.

It is common to allow workers breaks for a cigarette, but make sure you have clear rules on smoking.

By law, smoking is not permitted in any enclosed workplace. You have the following obligations:

Display signs

You must have “no smoking signs” displayed in all workplaces. A failure to comply with this duty will mean that a business can be fined up to £1,000.

Prevent smoking

You must ensure that people do not smoke in enclosed work premises or shared vehicles otherwise you may face a fine of up to £2,500.

It is not permissible to smoke in any work vehicle, for example a van delivering prescriptions that is used by more than one person. If it is only used by one worker, they may smoke subject to your approval.

How do I deal with smoking in the workplace?

Workers do not have a specific right to a smoking break. However, they are entitled to a minimum uninterrupted rest break of 20 minutes during any working day that exceeds 6 hours and this break may be used for smoking. Therefore, they may use their lunch or coffee break to smoke.

Letting people go for frequent smoking breaks can give rise to grievance from other workers in the pharmacy who do not smoke and do not take these breaks.

So it is important to have a clear policy, which outlines when they can smoke and what happens if someone does not abide by the rules.

You may take a number of approaches, for example, you may say that smoking breaks must be kept to a minimum. You should remind workers to think about when they are taking a smoking break – they should not take one at particularly busy times of the day or when there are limited workers available as it could create increased workloads or pressure for others.

Alternatively, you may specify that employees should not spend more than X minutes in a day taking smoking breaks.

You may take a stricter approach and say that smoking is only permitted during designated break times.

You should also make sure that all staff know about the policy and managers should apply and enforce the policy in a fair and consistent way.

Call the NPA Employment Law Advisory Service Team on 0330 123 0558 or email for more advice.

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