In the particular case the employer had always adopted a strict policy on smoking since the work entailed the use of highly flammable substances.
When the recent ‘no smoking’ ban for work premises was introduced the policy was reinforced by way of presentations.
It was clearly expressed that violation of the policy could result in summary dismissal for gross misconduct and, indeed, criminal prosecution.
The employee was temporarily idle at work and had a cigarette indoors.
At subsequent disciplinary meetings the employee claimed he was depressed. The employee had been employed for 12 years.
However, taking into account all the circumstances the dismissal was deemed fair.
When considering whether smoking indoors should be considered gross misconduct it is important to understand that it will only be a safe option to dismiss if there is
a) a suitable policy which along with the contract of employment specifies smoking to be an act of gross misconduct
b) the employees have had a clear explanation of these important rules.
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