Are Smoking Breaks a Thing of the Past in the Workplace?

I recently came across a news article that stated that Nottingham Council are considering implementing a staff smoking break ban. This ban is set to affect thousands of employees as no smoking signs invade what were previously approved smoking zones. The new smoking breaks policy is to include e-cigarettes and will also prevent staff in uniform smoking on their journey to and from the workplace.

The article raised a number of questions for me:

Are smoking breaks at work law?

The answer to this question was a surprise to me, perhaps it will be to you.

An employee is legally entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes within a six hour period, however, a worker has no right to a break that is specifically for the purpose of smoking. An employee can however, use their statutory rest break to smoke, provided that they meet the employers regulations on smoking around the outside areas of the workplace. The smoking areas should be obvious as they should display smoking or no smoking signs.

Can my employer stop me from taking smoking breaks?

Yes! But would they?

Your employer can not prevent you from smoking in your statutory break, which is most usually given as a lunch break. If breaks are taken outside of the statutory rest break your behaviour could be treated as misconduct. However, most employers “informally” allow their staff to take smoking breaks. Just be sure to know where you stand.

Most employers tend not to impose restrictions on smokers and are happy to accept that if people want to smoke they will and only ask that it be done within reason. This approach is more favourable for the morale of the workplace.

Where does that leave the non-smokers?

Can I take smoking breaks as a non-smoker?

Smoking breaks in the workplace can often cause a feeling of resentment amongst the non-smokers who could feel they are missing out on breaks. If this situation should arise your employer should deal with the claim in an official manner and follow it up within the guidelines of the company grievance procedure. Alternatively your employer could ensure that all staff get the same amount of breaks, which again is a more favourable approach for the morale of the workforce.

What would you do with your “no smoking” breaks? Catch up on social media or grab some fresh air and stretch your legs?

The Invasion of the No Smoking Sign

To be honest, I don’t think that it will be too long before smoking is a thing of the past at work, let alone smoking breaks at work. The government are already debating the banning of smoking in outdoor public places, which could include public entrances and exits to buildings. Bristol is already taking a stance and have banned smoking in two of their public squares as a result of anti-smoking campaigners displaying no smoking messages.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments.

Smoking Bans in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

Were you aware that smoking in the workplace can result in a worker being fined up to £200 pounds (1) and businesses can face a charge of up to £2500 pounds? However, fines are not the only reason why smoking prohibition signs are mandatory within many environments. Should a company be working with hazardous chemicals or flammable liquids, the dangers become obvious. So, the regulations in regards to workplace smoking have change dramatically.

The Ban Itself

While the debate of smoking in the workplace had existed for some time, the law finally came into effect on 1 July 2007. Wales and Northern Ireland followed suit soon after. This ban is currently enforced by Environmental Health Officers (ECOs) throughout the United Kingdom. If repeat offences take place, a business may very well have its licence revoked (in addition to any fines that could be faced)


electronic vapour battery powered e cigarette in black and white








As electronic cigarettes are not combustible, it is up to the company to decide whether or not they are prohibited. One consideration is the other employees who do not smoke. As an e-cigarette still contains nicotine, long-term health effects of non-smokers may be affected. Another concern is that much like a real cigarette, its electronic counterpart can be distracting to the worker. This could cause them to lose concentration and potentially hurt themselves or someone around them. So, the employer should always consider these situations when deciding to allow e-cigarettes within the workplace.

As The Sign Shed is the online home of numerous UK safety signs, we are pleased to be able to cater to this requirement. Please have a look through our smoking-related signs to appreciate the choices that you have.



I may have nits!

Yep, that’s right, NITS!! You know, head lice, those tiny insects that infest your hair and cost a fortune in nit lotion to get rid of.

It all started yesterday afternoon when I got a text message from the kid’s school to say that “someone in Year 2 has reported a case of head lice”. Apparently we need to “thoroughly check our child’s hair and treat if eggs or lice are found”.

Now, if you only have a child (singular) that’s fine. It shouldn’t take long. When you have children(plural), in our case 5, yes 5 between us, it’s a marathon! It wouldn’t be so bad if it was a once-off occurrence, but it’s nearly every week this term. Which means that someone in the Year 2 class still has the little blighters (nits, not the kids) and one B*OODY parent in the playground at home time can’t be bothered to check their little princess’s hair. The question is at 3pm – WHICH ONE??!! I have my suspicions.

So, as a result, all day, despite checking last night and finding nothing, I’m itching! So, do  tell my colleagues at Sign Shed HQ I may have nits, in which case, they may too, or do I keep quiet and play dumb on Monday morning??!!


Have a good weekend.

Rob, down the Shed, at Sign Shed HQ, itching…..


Are you a tosser?

It’s a reasonable enough question for a Tuesday isn’t it??!!!

Down the shed we’re gearing up for Pancake Day (in between making signs). Frying pans in hand, nice and heavy ones, none of your lightweight “softy” pans, we’re from Yorkshire yer know!

There’s the usual “are you a sweet or a savoury”. How you can contemplate putting gravy on a pancake is beyond me – that’s why they invented Yorkshire puddings! Sweet all the way for me – golden syrup, a bit of lemon juice and the job’s a good-un.

Then there’s the “American style or traditional pancake” heated debate. Who cares (although must admit I’m a traditional kind of guy!).

But, the one thing that separates the men (and ladies) from the boys (OK, and gals) is the t*ssing issue! To t*ss or not to t*ss, that is the question. And the answer, yes,I’m proud to say, I AM A T*SSER!


Rob, down the Shed at Sign Shed HQ

stack of pancakes
stack of pancakes on white background