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Smoking in the Workplace Law

Legislation on smoking at work is strict and punishing in the United Kingdom. Employers and employees need to understand the law for smoking in the workplace.

SMOKING AT WORK: Various public health laws govern smoking at the workplace.

Current legislation states that these places must be smoke free:

  • All enclosed or substantially enclosed workplace areas*
  • Public buildings, public transport, and shared workplace vehicles

These workplace smoking laws mean employers must meet their legal responsibilities. Only a few exemptions exist (with strict conditions).

You must take steps to prevent people smoking in any relevant premises at your workplace. Failing to do so may result in a penalty for smoking in the workplace.

Smoking in the Workplace Fine

Workers can receive a fine up to £200 (up to £50 in Scotland).

How does the law define smoking? It is being caught in possession of a lit substance such as tobacco or any other substance that can get smoked.

So, the rules apply to any type of cigarette, cigar, pipe, or a water pipe used to smoke tobacco.

Note: UK smoking laws do not currently apply to e-cigarettes and vaping rules. That means employers can decide whether they can be used on their work premises. (*Where more than one person works, paid or voluntarily).

Businesses: Smoking at Work Laws

There are several steps that businesses must take to prevent smoking at work. Some of the preventative measures include:

  1. Displaying signs for ‘No Smoking‘ in all workplaces and in certain work vehicles. Written ‘No Smoking’ signs must be in English and Welsh language if your business is in Wales.
  2. Ensuring people do not smoke in enclosed work premises or shared company vehicles.
  3. Taking reasonable steps to make staff, customers, or visitors are aware they cannot smoke in any restricted areas.

Note: UK smoking laws do not allow staff smoking rooms in the workplace. Thus, smokers have to smoke outside in the open air.

Penalties and Fines for Businesses

Businesses that fail to stop people smoking in the workplace can get fined up to £2,500. Your business could also receive a fine up to £1,000 for failing to display ‘No Smoking‘ signs on the premises.

Different penalties and fines apply in Scotland. The fixed penalty fine is £200 which can increase to £2,500 for failing to pay the fine.

Smoking in Work Vehicles Law

The law bans smoking in any work vehicle that gets shared by more than one person. Some examples include:

  • Buses, Taxis, Vans
  • Company Cars (if used by more than one employee)
  • Goods Vehicles (if used by more than one driver)

An exception allows a worker to smoke in a company car whereby only they use it. But, to do so the employer must agree to it.

Smoking Laws in Residential Homes

Hospices and residential care homes can provide individual rooms for smoking. But, they must be for the use of residents only. In this case, the rooms must also have effective ventilation and no smoke should enter any other rooms.

Workplace Smoking Laws and Employee Rights in the United Kingdom