Smoking exemptions are completely unworkable

If, as now seems likely, the proposed legislation on smoking at work and in public places will exempt private members’ clubs and pubs which do not serve food, how will this impact on workers in those places? Are they not to be afforded the same protection given to other employees?

And what about the employer obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace? Given that the ban is being imposed primarily on health grounds, an employer who continues to subject workers to smoke will surely be in breach of that obligation.

The exemption suggests that the only people who would wish to work in exempted premises are smokers. Would this not be a new form of discrimination? Would an employment application from a non-smoker be rejected on the grounds that, if employed, they might challenge the smoking exemption on health and safety grounds? And what would happen to an employee who was a smoker, but who wished to give up, and felt they could no longer work in a smoking environment?

From an employment perspective, I cannot believe that any exemptions would be either practical or workable.

Ian Wilder
HR practitioner

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