Having An Employee Handbook Policy On Smoking Is Just Smart Business
Smoking is one of those issues that divide us right down the middle, and sometimes in a very emotional way. Therefore, when it comes to the workplace having an employee handbook policy on smoking can save you a lot of headaches provided you enforce it. The issue of smoking boils down to a very simple fact and that is where and when can a smoker smoke? The problem is that even when a smoking policy has been implemented many smokers will sneak a cigarette anytime and anywhere they can, often times in the presence of other employees that don’t smoke.
The obvious reason for developing an employee handbook policy on smoking is that it is such an important health issue and in almost all workplaces illegal to do so. The underlying issue is that because it is so emotional can cause good employees to seek employment elsewhere and we all know what turnover can cost a small business owner. Turnover, especially of good employees, is a productivity killer. The amount of time to recruit, find, train, and get a new employee up and running, even if they are great at what they do, can take days, weeks, or even months. Can your small business afford that?
Today’s workforce is inundated with the idea that if things are not going the way you would like at work that it is perfectly alright to levy a law suit against your employer because they have put your future health at risk. Now we generally think of an employee suing their employer for employment issues like sexual harassment, discrimination, or wrongful termination; however, an employee filing a law suit against their employer for exposing them to unwanted smoke and an unhealthy work environment is not too farfetched.
When it comes to an employee handbook policy on smoking my recommendation are to keep it as simple as possible, and especially a workplace smoking policy. Many small businesses are taking the position that smoking is not permitted on their property at all, and that is a good position to take. However, if you do allow it, don’t try to include every possible situation or place that you know they may smoke. Instead narrow it down to what they are permitted to do. As an example if you have one or two designated outside smoking areas at your facility then your smoking policy should state that that is the only area an employee is permitted to smoke at work. The second piece of that smoking policy should state when an employee is permitted to smoke. As an example, during scheduled breaks and lunch would be the two most common.
Finally, if you do allow smoking at your facility the area designated for smoking needs to be in an area that will keep the smoke away from customers, visitors, vendors, and other staff members. There are so many different studies and opinions as to the proper distance that someone smoking should be from those not smoking to protect them, so use your own judgment.
Here is a simple example of two effective employee handbook policies on smoking policies:
Example #1 for your employee handbook policy on smoking
This is a smoke free facility and smoking is not permitted on any portion of this property at all. Any employee of this company found smoking on company property, regardless if they are on duty or not, will be subject to employee disciplinary action, up to and including, possible termination.
Example #2 for your employee handbook policy on smoking
Smoking is permitted during scheduled breaks and lunch in designated smoking areas only. Any employee of this company found smoking in any other location other than the designated smoking area on company property, regardless if they are on duty or not, will be subject to employee disciplinary action, up to and including, possible termination.
Finally, let’s talk about the importance of having an employee handbook. In my opinion it is the holy grail of a small business when it comes to maintaining a peaceful workforce. As a small business owner I know personally that you don’t have the time to research and develop an employee handbook on your own, nor do you want to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars having someone developing one for you. Again, I have always lived by the “KISS” system which means “Keep It Simple Stupid!”
There are plenty of professional companies that provide simple software that will enable you to put together a simple, but effective handbook. Remember, as a small business owner it does not have to be some elaborate thick extremely expensive manual that is bound with a hard cover written to handle any and every possible scenario that might take place during the work day. No it just needs to cover the simple things in a simple way.
Good luck but make sure you have an employee handbook policy on smoking if you have any smokers on your staff.
Thank you and May God bless you!
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