Monday, 2 April 2007

Smoking ban looms for employers

Shropshire businesses must take action now to prepare for the impending national smoking ban or face a last-minute panic.

John Mehtam, Employment Law specialist at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said the ban would become law on July 1, but companies should make provision as soon as possible.

“There are fewer than 100 days to go, and it’s important that businesses start to take this seriously,” said John.

“Many may already have smoking policies in place, but these will need to be formalised ready for the ban, as it means all enclosed or substantially enclosed workplaces must be smoke free.”

John said companies where employees still wanted to smoke after the ban takes effect would have to make arrangements for them to smoke outside the building

“It’s vital that businesses begin now to remove their smoking rooms, and put up no smoking signs, in order to prepare their workforce for the changes that will be compulsory.

“And any employer who fails to display the signs could be fined up to £1,000 – if they fail to stop their staff smoking in a smoke free place, the fine could be as much as £2,500.”

John said the ban would be enforced by environmental health officers from local authorities, so that it did not take up valuable police time.

“In preparation for the new law, some employers may want to consider offering smokers help to give up, and it’s also important to consult your staff on how your smoking policy will be implemented.

“You should also make sure everyone is fully aware how you will deal with people who try to ignore the ban, and that you will be taking the new law extremely seriously.

“The ban will improve the working environment for all employees, and companies just need to ensure they plan for it well in advance to help the transition run smoothly.”