A new guidance document outlined by ACAS gives advice on using e-cigarettes at work
The Advisory, Concilation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) provides free and impartial advice to employers and employees. The independent organisation gives guidance on all aspects of working life and one of these is vaping at work.
Previously, the ACAS guidance on e-cigarettes discouraged vaping in the workplace and failed to note some key points. The previous advice suggested that employees should go outside and vape among smokers.
The IBVTA writes to ACAS
- Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking
- Ensure policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders
- Identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people
- Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree
- Support compliance with smokefree law and policies
The IBVTA was happy to announce that ACAS revisited its guidance and made some amendments. Whilst ACAS do not actively encourage vaping, the new advice is much more balanced.
Vaping at work guidance
The organisation now makes a clear distinction between smoking and vaping in its guidance.
“E-cigarettes fall outside the scope of smoke free legislation as the act of smoking requires a substance to be burnt. Therefore whether to allow employees to use them at work or not is up to their employer”
The guidance also addresses the point that workplaces should support smokers to stop smoking and remain smoke-free.
“Some employees use E-cigarettes as part of a plan to stop smoking, so employers may want to support their use if this is the case”
“Preventing the use of E-cigarettes at work could make it harder for those who use them to stop smoking, particularly if they are required to use them in designated smoking areas together with cigarette smokers. Employers may want to consider organising a separate vaping area in or near the workplace.”
It’s refreshing to see ACAS taking the IBVTAs comments on-board and altering their advice. We hope this new guidance allows employers to create sensible policy based on reliable information.
Further updates to the ACAS guidance
The guidance also covered various other topics such as suggested break policies for smokers and vapers.
There is often a dispute around the possibility that smokers and vapers get extra break time. The guidance covers this concern and now states:
“Staff who smoke or vape should try to maintain the same amount of break time as colleagues who do not smoke.”
It does however lean towards the suggestion that employers could offer smokers/vapers numerous shorter breaks. It asks employers to consider rules on ‘how many breaks can be taken and ‘how long the break may last’.
The risk of non-compliance is also covered as ACAS explains that employees taking unauthorised breaks and vaping in prohibited areas should be given disciplinary action.