• An employment tribunal has indicated that e-cigarettes are not to be treated in the same way as traditional cigarettes.

    In a recent case, an employee who was a school catering assistant was seen using an e-cigarette in view of pupils. She was seen by the headteacher who complained to her employer, the catering company. A disciplinary hearing was scheduled but the employee resigned before it took place.

    The employee did not succeed in her claim for constructive unfair dismissal but this was not the most interesting part of the case, for the Employment Tribunal went on to comment on the employer’s no-smoking policy.

    It indicated that the employee could not be said to have breached the relevant no-smoking policy as this did not extend to e-cigarettes.

    This case suggests that existing policies are unlikely to be interpreted as applying to e-cigarettes, even as in this case, where the School’s position was no doubt that a good example needed to be set for their students.

    Whilst some employers are taking the view that e-cigarettes are allowed on their sites, if an employer does not think this is appropriate, possibly because of potential damage to their image, then this will need to be clearly covered in no-smoking or disciplinary policies.

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