Much of the workforce is working from home during the pandemic, so strictly speaking home is therefore their workplace.
Under the Smoking (Northern Ireland ) Order 2006 and the supporting statutory regulations smoking in most “enclosed” or “substantially enclosed” public places is prohibited.
In practical terms this means that virtually all workplaces, including offices, factories and shops must be smoke-free environments.
So can you ban your homeworking employees from smoking at home? After all, if they were sitting at a desk in your workplace, they wouldn’t be allowed to smoke.
The legislation does provide for residential exemption
The smoke free legislation provides an exemption for all private residential accommodation, such as an employee’s home. Equally, you aren’t specifically required to prevent employees who are homeworkers from smoking during working hours. That’s the legal position even if the employee’s home is nominated as their permanent place of work.
In practical terms though, it won’t look professional if an employee sits through a video conference call chain smoking. For this reason you may wish to introduce a rule which says that employees must refrain from smoking during video calls. You could extend this rule to e-cigarettes too.
It should be made clear that the same standard of professionalism is required as that which are applicable to any meetings held in the workplace.