Do employers have to provide a smoking area UK?

Anybody who has ever worked in an office will know that there is often a need for smoking areas – and quick smoking breaks – in large offices. While the number of people who smoke in the UK has dropped dramatically in the past decade, around 15% of people in the UK still smoke, and this must be taken into consideration by employers when managing a busy office.

Why is it important to let my employees smoke?

Ensuring that your employees have the time and space to smoke in a safe, open area is good for both employee satisfaction and productivity levels. Just as staff members who are hungry or thirsty might need a snack to keep their productivity levels up, employees who feel the urge to smoke will be distracted and inefficient until the need is met. This doesn’t mean that smokers take long breaks or even very frequent ones, but a good balance should ensure the needs of both the employer and the employee are met.

Do I have to provide a smoking area?

As experts in high-quality smoking shelters, our customers often ask: ‘Do employers have to provide a smoking area?’ UK laws are quite clear that they do not – though this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. The law states that employers must give employees a 20-minute break when working for six hours or more a day, and smokers are welcome to use this time to smoke in a suitable area, ie. one which isn’t enclosed or mostly enclosed.

Why should I provide a smoking shelter?

Smokers must have a place to smoke in order to stay focused during the day – we know that much. If you do not provide a suitable smoking shelter for staff who smoke, you will either have to allow staff to smoke in public areas such as car parks – which is both unsightly, unprofessional, and will be disliked by many non-smoking staff – or accept that many staff members who smoke may leave the office premises during breaks in order to find somewhere to smoke. This is far from ideal, meaning many members of staff are unavailable if you need them, and breaks may often end up taking longer than 20 minutes.

Providing your staff with a durable, high-quality smoking shelter is an investment in staff productivity. Show your staff that you prioritise their needs, whether they smoke or not.