There has been quite a stir recently following press coverage concerning the duties to display ‘no smoking’ signs in work vehicles.
On 27 November 2016, the Kent Messenger ran a story about a van driver who was fined £200 by Canterbury City Council for failing to display a no smoking sign in his van. It was reported that the washing machine repairer and business partner were using the van to deliver to a job when they were approached by the Enforcement Officer and given the fine.
After the story broke, I was contacted by concerned clients asking me what the law means for them.
Many are aware that since 2006 it has been an offence to smoke in work vehicles. At the time, there was a large media campaign and many column inches written on the topic.
In October 2015, the smoking ban extended to vehicles carrying children. Again, there was media coverage, but that coverage mainly focused of the smoking offences and the impact on families.
Since then, the media coverage has been quieter.
This has left many people unaware that there is also a duty to display at least one no smoking sign in work vehicles if they are used by more than one person. This means that if you share your work vehicle with another person, you must have a sign displayed somewhere visible. It still applies if none of you smoke and you are never in the vehicle at the same time. You would still be caught out if you gave a workmate a lift.
Businesses can be fined up to £2500 if they fail to prevent people from smoking in the workplace and up to £1000 for not displaying the signs. Local Councils have the power to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for £200 which can be discounted to £150 if paid within 14 days. It is interesting to note that the legislators appear to be cracking down on the businesses rather than the smokers themselves. The maximum penalty for smoking in the workplace is just £200. The Fixed Penalty Notice of £50 reduced to just £30 if paid within 14 days.
Lone workers are not covered by the duty to display a no smoking sticker provided they never have anyone else in their van and do not lend it to anyone.
Katharine Holt is solicitor at Sahota Newcomb and Scott and an expert in regulatory law.
If you are interested in finding out if this duty applies to you and your business, please get in touch.