HR BLOG: What’s the impact of smoking on businesses?

Smokers cost their bosses and small businesses almost £2,000 per year in lost productivity for cigarette breaks, research from the British Heart Foundation shows.

An average of one in five members of staff smoke, taking four cigarette breaks a day, that each last about 10 minutes. Following this line of thinking, smoking can take up to 8.1% of a full-time employee’s time and 5.4% that of a part-time staff member. The latter’s habit costs their employers £447 per year.

In addition, almost a full day is taken as extra sick leave by smokers than their non-smoking counterparts, costing on average another £50 per year.

How can this impact my business?

Smoking is banned inside most workplaces, but many people can be confused about what they legally have to provide for smokers.

The short answer is ‘nothing’. There is no law that requires employers to get an outdoor shelter or to provide bins (although it’s probably a good idea to keep the area clean and tidy).

While some people think smoking is a human right, they are wrong! You can have rules which ban cigarette breaks whilst working. This means they can only smoke during their scheduled rest breaks.

It’s best to draw up a clear no-smoking policy that is part of an employee handbook.

How do I deal with e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes and vapers fall outside of the smoke-free laws. So you can choose whether to allow staff to smoke them in the workplace. Some bosses will want to support those using e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking. But the vapour may be annoying to other employees and provide a risk of passive smoking. The long-term impact of e-cigarettes isn’t yet known.

What about smoking in company cars?

Smoking isn’t allowed in any work vehicle that more that one person uses, like taxis, buses, vans, or pool cars. A staff member can smoke in a company car that only they use, but only if their boss agrees.

What should I include in a smoking policy?

It’s best to get in touch with your local HR Dept office and they can help you make the changes to your contracts and handbooks in a fair way that complies with all employment legislation.

Alison Schreiber runs The HR Dept Durham and Darlington franchise, and works with a number of businesses across PBP. For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington or call Alison on 01325 526036 or 07535 853226.