Expert Calls On Employers To Take Care With Smoking Break Rules

Lawyer Comments On Council's 'Clocking Out' Decision

04.11.2010

Employers have been urged by a lawyer to ensure they have the right policies in place when introducing new rules on their staff.

Ed Cotton, a partner at Irwin Mitchell, issued the warning as it emerged that Breckland Council in Norfolk has introduced new regulations calling on workers to clock out every time they choose to take a cigarette break.

Commenting on the issue, the employment law expert suggested that while the move is not the most common, it could still potentially create issues - or even divides - within the workplace if not dealt with by organisations in the correct manner.

He explained: “It is unusual for employers to require employees to ‘clock out’ in order to take smoking breaks. This may be a sign of the increased pressure on public sector employers to achieve efficiency from their staff.

“Given that there is no statutory right to smoking breaks a more usual approach would be to require employees to use their rest breaks to smoke.

“If employers intend to introduce a clocking out requirement they will need to ensure that they have a well-drafted policy and that it is consistently applied.”