Employee Relations up in Smoke: Ask HR Guy

Published: Mar 10, 2009

 Workplace Issues       
Dear HR Guy:

We have an employee who does excellent work and gets along well with most of the other employees. The problem is that he is a heavy smoker, and sometimes smokes in his office. Other employees (including some he manages) have complained to HR about the smell and said it makes the office environment unpleasant.

We have tried talking to him. His response is that sometimes the work gets intense and he feels that he can't wait until an opportunity to go outside arises. However, he has said he'll stop smoking in the office, then continues to "sneak" in a few here and there.

My question is, how can we help him understand that he must stop smoking in the office?

Choked Up

Dear Choked Up,
This puts you in a tough position, because even though you really like this employee, basically he is breaking the law!

If the building has a no-smoking policy and this employee continues to smoke, he is potentially endangering the lives of his coworkers. Unfortunately, you are going to have to take a hard line and let this employee know if he is caught doing this again, he will have to be terminated. If someone was to complain to the authorities that this employee was smoking, your company could be fined.