Smoking policies

Illinois has a no smoking with 15 feet of building and the law says we can be more restrictive. We have an employee who smokes and comes back into the office smelling of smoke which the four others in her office find very offensive. If I can be more restrictive, I would like to say that she cannot smoke during working hours. Any thoughts on that?


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  • Welcome to the forum, aheisler!

    Here are some things to think about....

    1. Are you going to regulate everything your employees do on their own time, such as during unpaid meal breaks?
    2. There are court cases of employers who are successful in banning smoking anywhere [B]on the premises[/B], but,
    3. There are also court cases of employers who are unsuccessful in regulating off-duty behavior.
    4. If you're going to commit to this, the only way I see you could accomplish it is to ban smokers as employees - some companies have been successful with this, others haven't, but it's a pretty big step to take. (Google Weyco, Inc.)
    5. There are other remedies out there that aren't quite so drastic - what would you do if you had an employee whose body odor was so bad that others were complaining? I beleive we had a thread about that very topic several months ago. Search the forum and see what you can find.
    6. Buy air fresheners. :)

    Hope this helps - it's not a direct answer, but the reality is that many employers have fought the smoking battle in a variety of ways, some successful, some unsuccessful - you have to find what works best for your physical workplace, employee population, wellness goals, and culture.
  • From a purely legal standpoint, I think you'd be fine. Illinois does have a Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act that protects employees' "use of lawful products [i]outside the workplace during nonwork hours[/i]," but this wouldn't cover what you wish to do.

    However, from a practical standpoint, if the problem is the smoke odor, I wonder if it might be easier to speak to her first about the odor before creating a policy such as this that specifically targets her.

    My thought is that if she knows she can't smoke during the work day, then she's more likely to chain smoke a cigarette or two before she comes into work (and you can't restrict her smoking outside of work). So then the issue with the odor persists in spite of the policy.
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