Information for Accommodation Providers on Smoke-Free Workplaces and Smoking Policy
Research has shown that smoke-free workplaces help smokers to give up or reduce the amount they smoke and have many benefits for the workplace such as:
- A reduction in absenteeism and sick leave
- Lower maintenance costs due to less litter and cleaning costs
- Increased productivity due to less smoke breaks and improved health of employees
- Protects employees from the effects of second-hand smoke
- Improving morale among non-smokers
- Lower operational costs
- More pleasant work environment
- Improves company image
Smoking regulations in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland smoke-free regulations state that it is against the law to smoke (tobacco products or any other lit substance that can be smoked) in all enclosed workplaces and enclosed/partially enclosed public places (with some exemptions). This extends to banning smoking in work vehicles used by more than one person. No smoking signs are required to be displayed at all entrances to premises and in work vehicles.
Penalties and fines can be issued to anyone breaking Smoke-Free legislation. For further information on smoke free legislation, contact your Local Council’s Tobacco Control Officer (Environmental Health Department).
Northern Ireland working time regulations entitle all workers to a rest break of at least 20 minutes for every six hours of work. There is no legal requirement to provide additional breaks for people to smoke. Therefore, allowing smokers to smoke during working hours is at the employers’ discretion.
Designated Smoking Areas
Providing a designated smoking area is at an employer’s discretion, there is no legal requirement. If a smoking area is provided by the organisation (this is usually a smoking shelter), it is important that it meets planning requirements and building regulations, its boundaries are clearly defined and a risk assessment is completed to ensure safe access and use of the shelter. Proposed shelters should comply with the Smoking (NI) Order 2006.
Developing a No Smoking Policy for the Workplace
Although, it is not a legal requirement for workplaces to have a smoking policy it is often recommended. Having a smoking policy, can show the organisations expectations of employees, and can help ensure smoke-free legal requirements are clearly understood and followed by staff. It can help protect employees from the effects of second-hand smoke and can also assist those ready to quit smoking.
In developing a Smoking policy, it is important to consult with employees and their representatives to ensure it is appropriate and meets the requirements of the workplace. It is also important to keep staff informed and give them adequate notice of when the policy will be formally introduced. The policy should be available and easily accessed by employees. On introduction of the policy, a copy should be circulated to all staff and on appointment of new staff, they should be issued with a copy of the policy.
A good Smoking policy will also consider support for employees who would like to give up smoking.
Smoking Rooms in Shared Accommodation
Hotels are permitted to provide designated smoking rooms, so long as a number of conditions are met:
- Smoke must be kept inside the designated smoking room.
- There should be no smoke elsewhere in the building, such as along corridors.
- Rooms should be designated and may only be changed once per year, if required for decorating, maintenance, etc.
- Smoking is not permitted in dormitories.
Support is available for Employers from Tobacco Control Officer, usually based in the Environmental Health Department of the Local Council. Click here