It's not smoking, it's vaping !
The Employment Tribunal has just dealt with its first case of ‘vaping’ which is the term given to the use of an e-cigarette. In the case of Insley v Asset Catering a school catering assistant was suspended after having been seen by the headteacher using an e-cigarette in front of pupils on the school premises. The employee resigned before the disciplinary hearing took place and claimed constructive dismissal. Her claim was dismissed because the tribunal decided that the employer had acted appropriately in suspending her. The tribunal commented that it was not being asked to decide the question of whether her conduct amounted to ‘gross misconduct’ in this case but added that if it had the school’s smoking policy would have been highly relevant. The tribunal went on to note that the smoking policy referred to and banned the use of lit tobacco only on its premises, indicating a risk there could have been an unfair dismissal.
This case is a reminder to employers, in light of the continuing rise in the use of e-cigarettes, to consider how they wish to address the use in the workplace and review and amend their smoking policies as appropriate.
If you would like advice on this or any other aspect of employment law please contact Christina Merrington.