In the UK there are now laws against smoking in vans that are used for work activities. Different parts of the UK have different regulations with Scotland being the first country in the Union to enforce these restrictions. With each part of the UK having subtle differences when it comes to smoking in work vans it is important to understand these, it could cost you or your company a fair bit.
Making Sure You’re Fully Compliant
Whether you drive an HGV a Transit or a small car and it is used for work purposes you are in danger of breaking the law if you choose to smoke in these vehicles. Your vehicle should also have a no-smoking sign on display within each compartment that a person can sit. This sign needs to have a minimum size of 75mm in diameter and clearly indicate that the vehicle is not to be smoked in. The ashtray should be removed if there is one and a smoke-free policy introduced to the staff. Vehicles conforming to these standards will be compliant no matter what area of the UK they are driving in.
When Can You Smoke in a Company Vehicle?
There are a couple of exceptions to the law that would allow a work vehicle to be smoked in, but they are quite vague and can be a little in the grey area of when it comes to proof and responsibility. It would be up to you or your company to prove that the vehicle falls into these exceptions.
A company car used solely by one employee is an exception only if the driver never has to pick up any employees to go to meetings or the car is used by another employee if the main driver of the car is on holiday or off sick for the day. Blatantly speaking the car can only be driven by one employee.
A privately owned car used occasionally for company business is also exempt from the regulations – occasionally is the keyword here and like mentioned above it is up to the company to prove the car is only used occasionally.
A vehicle which has a roof that can be removed will not have to be smoke-free when the roof is completely stowed or removed.
Variations Between England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland
In England, the no-smoking signs are required to have the no-smoking symbol at least 70mm in diameter. In Wales and Northern Ireland, the requirement is for a minimum 75mm diameter symbol. Scotland has no minimum signage requirement.
Scotland – In Scotland a slightly differing view with regards to company cars. The Scottish Executive has advised that if you use a car, your own or a company car, for business purposes, it will be exempt unless it is a private hire car. This includes situations when the vehicle is used by more than one person.
The penalty for not displaying a sign is a fixed-penalty notice of £200 reduced to £150 if paid within 15 days. If the fine is not paid and you are convicted in court the maximum fine is £1000.
Individuals caught breaking the law can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £50 reduced to £30 if paid within 15 days or a maximum fine of £200 on conviction.
Companies have a duty to prevent smoking in vehicles classed as smoke-free. The penalty for this is a maximum fine of £2500 on conviction. Compliance requires that reasonable steps are taken by a company to enforce the rules.
Following the advice above should ensure company vehicles are compliant throughout the UK saving both companies and employees from falling foul of the regulations regarding smoking in business vehicles across the United Kingdom. You can check the most recent legislation by visiting https://www.gov.uk/smoking-at-work-the-law