Can my employer stop smokers from taking cigarette breaks?

Workers are entitled to breaks and what they do in these breaks is a matter for them, so long as it is not on the employer's premises. Therefore it would be very difficult for an employer to insist that a worker does not smoke in their lunch break or coffee break.

They can however insist that smokers do not take additional breaks, but most employers will try to take a relaxed attitude and accept that if people want to smoke, imposing restrictions is not going to help morale and some breaks, within reason, are acceptable. Your employer should have a clear policy on smoking breaks, and any breaches of the policy should be dealt with fairly and consistently. If it becomes a disciplinary issue, your employer should follow its disciplinary policy.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.