Vaping at work: e-cigarettes and non-smoking policies.

As the smoking of electronic cigarettes, known as “vaping”, continues to increase in popularity, employers should make sure they set out clear policies in order to deal with the issue in the workplace.

A survey conducted in 2013 by YouGov for the anti-tobacco charity, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), concluded that more than 2.1 million people in the UK now smoke e-cigarettes, representing a three-fold increase compared with the previous estimated figure of 700,000. Globally, it is projected that annual sales of e-cigarettes will reach $10 billion within a few years.

However, despite the increasing popularity of the devices, opinion is divided over whether e-cigarettes offer a healthy alternative to conventional smoking or whether in fact they are an unsafe, poorly-regulated fad.

The law

The law on conventional smoking in workplaces in the UK is clear. In terms of the Health Act 2006, the smoking of normal cigarettes is banned in enclosed or substantially enclosed public places, including workplaces.However, e-cigarettes fall outside of the legal definition set out by the Health Act 2006 and are not covered by the legal ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces. Therefore, it is up to individual employers to take action and set out a policy on the subject.

Authorities around the world take a widely varying approach to e-cigarettes. While the City of San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently voted unanimously to ban e-cigarettes, treating them like combustible cigarettes, an e-cigarette coffee shop opened in Shoreditch High Street in east London in March 2014. Here, vapers can buy and smoke their e-cigarettes in a public place without breaking the law, despite the smoking ban having been in place for seven years.

Formulating a vaping policy

Acas recently published limited guidance on the subject of e-cigarettes, pointing out that since the devices fall outside the scope of smoke-free legislation, employers can choose whether to allow employees to smoke them at work or not. However, Acas warns that whatever the policy, employers should be clear about the rules.

Employers therefore need to decide whether to allow employees to smoke e-cigarettes in the workplace or ban them as they would ordinary smoking implements.

Acas makes the point that e-cigarettes are often used as an aid to stop smoking, so employers should carefully consider the implications for their own organisations when deciding what to do about e-cigarettes within their workplace. However, the conciliation body also urges employers to consider the effects on other members of staff as the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown, and having e-cigarette vapours in the workplace may create an unpleasant environment.

Acas suggests employers could include a paragraph about e-cigarettes in the existing policy document on smoking, drugs and alcohol, following consultation on the new rules with employees and their representatives.

Furthermore, Acas advises that if smoking e-cigarettes is allowed at work, line managers should be aware of who may be smoking them within their teams.

The Acas guidance on vaping says, “It is best to make it a rule that line management approval is needed to smoke e-cigarettes in the workplace.”

Employers may want to put up signs or notices in the workplace which make it clear where smoking is allowed (if this is the case) and where it is banned, including rules for cigarette smokers and rules for e-cigarette smokers.

Although smoking is forbidden within workplace premises, organisations can still make certain areas available at work to be smoking areas. However, the practicalities of e-cigarettes may be challenging for employers; the TUC supports the idea that separate areas should be made available for users of e-cigarettes away from any outside smoking area. Hugh Robertson said, “If a worker is using electronic cigarettes to help them give up smoking tobacco then it is not going to help forcing them to go outside in the same area as smokers.”

 If you need advice on updating your policy on this, then we can help

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ

Tel: 01384 823835


Work Your Proper Hours Day – 27th February

We recently read this article posted (11 February 2015) on the Unum website (one of the UK’s leading financial protection insurers) and thought we would share it.  Working long hours just because it’s expected is something The Acoworking_overtimern Support team are passionate about trying to change. We believe that having realistic expectations about the hours you expect your employees to work, and acknowledging that employees have a home life and want and need that down time away from work, can help create a dedicated and loyal workforce.

Are your employees working too hard? which is on the 27th February this year, highlights the extent of unpaid overtime across the UK.

More than five million employees regularly do unpaid overtime, currently worth more than £25 billion to the economy, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Teachers, legal managers and finance professionals are most likely to do unpaid work, according to the TUC. London is the capital of unpaid overtime, with 900,000 workers across the city regularly putting in more than eight hours of free labour every week.

 The long hours culture is particularly prevalent in small and medium-sized businesses. Other research by Axa PPP Healthcare shows that 47% of SME employees regularly work four or more hours of overtime per week. And they don’t take a proper lunch break either. A fifth have less than half an hour for lunch, while 12% don’t take a lunch break at all.

While all this free working may sound good for your business, it generally leads to workplace stress, illness and burnout.

What is the purpose of Work Your Proper Hours Day?

The TUC launched Work Your Proper Hours Day 11 years ago with the aim of creating awareness among employees on how to balance their work life with their home life. The campaign is also designed to remind employers about the value of unpaid work.

The TUC says the two billion hours of unpaid overtime worked every year could be reduced by smarter management practices, such as better delegation.

On February 27th 2015, bosses are being encouraged to lead by example by urging their staff to work their proper hours and take a full lunch break instead of eating at their desk, even if it’s just for one day.

Why the long-term effects of unpaid overtime are bad for business

People work long hours for many reasons. It’s often because they have too big a workload, are worried about losing their job or feel pressured into staying behind because their colleagues are working late.

 Putting in a few extra hours when there is a crisis or unexpected increase in orders is readily accepted by most workers. It’s only when long hours become the norm – not the exception – that problems start to arise. To get the best out of your staff, they need to arrive at work feeling fresh and motivated. 

Working long hours can have a negative impact on many things, including:

  •  Productivity – Employees who are overworked are less productive and more prone to making mistakes than workers who stick to regular hours.
  • Relationships – Personal relationships can suffer. According to Axa, 27% of people have cancelled time with family and friends due to work constraints, while 18% of parents have missed a school play or parents’ evening. 5
  • Mental health – Working unpaid overtime on a regular basis can cause stress, depression or anxiety which, in turn, can lead to long-term sickness absence. Employers have a duty of care to look after the health and well being of their staff
  • Physical health – Working excessive hours increases the risk of injury through exhaustion and lack of concentration, and can lead to headaches, digestive problems and even heart disease. Overworking can also cause people to smoke and drink more.
  • Morale – Working every hour god sends isn’t good for morale or motivation. A culture of long hours causes higher staff turnover and means your business won’t win any ‘best workplace’ prizes.

So are you and your company going to join in this years Work Your Proper Hours Day?  If so what do you plan to do? Is this something you can trial on a more long term basis. It’s amazing how much more productive a person can be when they know they have a short time in which to do it!

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ

Tel: 01384 823835

Disciplinary Hearings

Disciplinary hearings are something that no one likes to do, particularly with an employee whom you have known for a long time.

How do you know when enough is enough?  How do you determine an action has been taken out of intent or not?  How do you ensure you have investigated correctly?

Acorn Support help our clients address these questions and ensure that the process runs smoothly ensuring compliance with procedures and fairness of outcomes.

If the process is not followed correctly, it will put the company on the wrong footing to manage the correct outcome.  Failure to follow a full investigation will demonstrate gaps in your case, and will be unfair to the employee.

Talk to Acorn Support for the advice and guidance on how to approach a case.  We will walk you through each step and provide the necessary documentation.

We also attend hearings with clients should they required the additional support.

Don’t be put off by the process, seek the advice and manage the right and fair outcome for all concerned.

We can support you through this process, please contact us

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ

Tel: 01384 823835 ~ Registered No: 06958004

UK Employees Losing A Quarter of Their Annual Leave

(Glassdoor UK Annual Leave Survey (2014))

The average UK employee only uses 77% of their annual leave per year, while 44% of employees say that they undertake some work while on holiday.

Employees in Wales used the most annual leave (86%) and those in Scotland the least (66%).

These are the findings of the Glassdoor UK Annual Leave Survey, which offers insight into how employees’ time off is becoming increasingly squeezed by their job duties and responsibilities.

With average annual leave in the UK at approximately 28 days per year, this means that employees could be losing 6.5 days every 12 months. The survey found that only half (50%) of UK employees take their full annual leave allowance, dropping to just 36% in the North East and 39% in Scotland. The survey also uncovered evidence of using annual leave to look for another job – in fact, 9% of employees that took time off said that they had used holiday days to attend interviews for a new job. This rises to almost one in five (15%) for employees in London.

In addition, more than 2 in 5 (44%) employees who took annual leave admit to doing some work while on holiday. This is as high as 57% for Scottish employees and 51% for employees from London, and as low as 25% for employees from Wales. Almost one in five employees who took annual leave in the past year (19%) said that they had a difficult time not thinking about work while they were off. This is highest among employees in London (27%). When it comes to age differences, employees 25-34 years old find it most difficult not thinking about work while on leave (25%) compared to employees in other age groups.

Eighteen percent of employees who took paid time off in the past year said that a colleague has contacted them about a work-related matter, and 13% said that their boss contacted them about work.

The survey also explored why employees might do some work while they were on leave. 11% of employees said that they feared getting behind on their work, 10% said that they wanted a pay rise, 6% said that they fear not meeting their goals and 6% said that they fear losing their job.

Do you make your employees take their full holiday entitlement? What is the health and safety impact of not taking holiday?

If you need any advice or support in this matter, please contact us

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ

Tel: 01384 823835 ~ Registered No: 06958004

Who is your ideal client?

The decisions that we make as a business owner are often difficult on the surface, but when you look into them a little further they are quite straight forward.

Where am I going with this?  Today we took the decision not to quote for a sizable piece of work.

Why you may ask, are we mad?  No we are not.  They did not represent the ideal client that we pride ourselves in working with.  Some of the process we had been along with them, was not as clear as we felt it should have been, and for which we like to work towards.

Following our meetings we understood that they had approached colleagues of ours, and requested they quote for the work again.  Our connections in our business community are very important to us, and we pride ourselves in being open and honest.  We therefore assessed the ideal client, and graciously stepped aside, allowing our colleague, and perhaps others to continue with their actions to secure the business.

We can help you understand who your ideal clients are and when it is right for you to pursue work, or to step aside and focus on your ideal client. If you would like to discuss your ideal client and how you attract them, then contact us.

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ

Tel: 01384 823835 ~ Registered No: 06958004

Legislation to limit retrospective holiday

Government announces legislation to limit retrospective holiday pay claims to two years

Article date:  28/01/2015

On 18 December 2014, the government announced that draft regulations have been put before Parliament to impose a two-year limitation on unlawful deductions from wages claims in respect of holiday pay. This follows the EAT’s recent decision in Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton that non-guaranteed overtime must be taken into account when calculating holiday for the minimum four weeks’ statutory annual leave entitlement required by the Working Time Directive. The draft regulations will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 and will apply to claims presented on or after 1 July 2015.

The limitation will also prevent employees from trying to argue that a failure to pay holiday pay correctly is a breach of contract which would allow them to claim in the civil courts, where the limitation period is 6 years.

The aim of the draft regulations is to reduce potential costs to employers and give certainty to workers on their rights on holiday pay. This news is welcome for employers who were previously concerned about the extent of historical liabilities following the Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton ruling.

Thanks to Higgs and Sons for sharing this information.

If you need any support in any issues raised in this article, please get in contact.

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ

Tel: 01384 823835 ~ Registered No: 06958004

No socialising on social media!

I have been shocked and offended by a comment to a fellow business connection this week.  For a couple of years I have admired and followed with interest their work.  I have been included on their monthly newsletter and liked and shared their social media posts.  However this week I was asked to ‘reframe’ from liking and sharing their posts.   I’m sure you can share my shock and offence!

I asked myself why? What had I done wrong?  How could my support be seen in a negative light?

I have now asked myself what planet are they on?  Why are they on social media if not to share the publicity of their work? Why are they issuing a newsletter if not to publicise their work?  Do they have a social media policy, if so it seriously needs revisiting!

Needless to say it has upset me to think I had been in the wrong but I do stand by the support and sharing the work of my connections, I will continue to do so, but minus this person!!!

Has this happened to you? Or have you ever asked for someone to unfollow you, and stop being so social?

If you would like support with your social media policy, please contact us.

27 Harvine Walk, Norton, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY8 3BQ

Tel: 01384 823835 ~ Registered No: 06958004