Sounds odd but legally fair game

A leading Labour-run council has banned staff from smoking at their desks if they are working from home, in what campaigners say is an emerging “moral crusade” by local authorities against tobacco lovers.

Hammersmith and Fulham council, which represents one of the richest areas in London, told its staff in guidance that “any part of a private dwelling used solely for work purposes will be required to be smoke-free”.

The guidance was issued in a joint “bi-borough corporate health and safety document setting out the council’s no-smoking policy with Royal Kensington and Chelsea”.

Well, yes, employers are supposed to make sure you’re not exposed to danger while working. we can all point out that smoking is up to the individual and all that but that horse bolted a long time ago.

29 thoughts on “Sounds odd but legally fair game”

  1. I doubt that there’s such a thing as a part of a private dwelling used solely for work purposes so, apart from being unenforceable, the guidance is daft and probably a means only to gain nanny-points.

  2. I reckon I could accept this if: they adapted my home for use as a workplace (desk, chair, computer, two monitors) and paid for my utility bills, coffee breaks, fitted air conditioning, heating, cleaner, etc.

    I mean, if they want to treat my home as their workplace, it can’t only be for some things but not for others.

  3. I think you lot have it the wrong way around: the council is trying to insulate itself from legal claims from employees arguing they contracted lung cancer in a council workplace.

  4. I think we’re arguing that a home office is not a council workplace. I can’t see that it’s in the council’s interests to suggest otherwise. Are they going to send H&S round to check up? Maintenance round to change the light bulb? I might fall off the ladder, etc.

  5. “Dedicating part of your home solely to work purposes risks a capital gains tax liability.”

    Not to mention the impacts on your council tax valuation, house/contents insurance, etc.

  6. I’d agree with M’Lud. The council is covering its arse. But I’d also say this is the most appalling bullshit imaginable.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    Knowing a little bit about H&S (most of it serves a genuine purpose) my guess is that this is someone ticking a box so that should there ever be a claim or just an inspection they are seen to have followed the legislation, or at least what they think is the legislation. (As we are finding out, ministers need only issue “guidance” and then all the petty jobsworths start acting as if its law)

  8. How are they going to know?

    JuliaM, sometimes I forget to mute my microphone before firing up the lighter. That snap-hiss is pretty distinctive. Then again I used to join conference calls from my balcony all the time way before this so my colleagues are used to it. And grateful that I’m not nicotine deprived.

    the council is trying to insulate itself from legal claims from employees

    Ed Lud, yes of course. I had a three page questionnaire to fill out a few months ago which went into great detail about my home arrangements, including whether my chair has just height adjustment or back/tilt settings also. There was a box to tick for smoke free workplace in it as well. Never mind that I’m a casual/contractor who had been partially working from home for years, suddenly we needed a policy. For, as you say, insulation. They’ve got my signature on a form saying everything is cool, arse covered.

  9. @Noel C “Dedicating part of your home solely to work purposes risks a capital gains tax liability”

    Indeed. Same with those ‘office sheds’ that are trendy.

    Used as a family room on Saturdays. Always.

  10. Noel C said:
    “Dedicating part of your home solely to work purposes risks a capital gains tax liability.“

    Indeed, hence Murphy’s train set in his home office. Seems he can do tax avoidance when it’s for himself.

  11. Out of interest, where in a contract of employment would it require an employee to provide workspace for the employer’s work to be conducted?

  12. Charge the council rent for the part of the home used ‘solely’ for work. Plus ask for a certificate of insurance cover from the Council for that part of the home – which may not be covered by the domestic policy. And bill the Council for cleaning.

  13. “Charge the council rent for the part of the home use”

    Home office users do get an allowance for this in some companies, along with a furniture allowance. In return they expect you to have an ergonomic neutral set up,,i.e. not tapping and clicking away on your laptop on the settee/bog for hours on end.

  14. “Are they going to send H&S round to check up?”

    As with many things bureaucratic, Germany got there first.

  15. “Not to mention the impacts on your council tax valuation, house/contents insurance, etc”

    Doesn’t “Change of Use” (i.e. Residential to Business) come into it as well?

  16. Had to do something recently where we had to sign off that our home workspace was safe, they wanted written fire evacuation plans and muster points as part of the form.
    My answer of ‘leave the house’ was accepted as a satisfactory evacuation plan as was ‘outside the house’ for muster point. I was tempted to add a drawing from when the kids were 5yrs old showing us all stood outside the house and reference the attached diagram for muster point info but couldn’t be bothered to make the effort

  17. Some previous owner of my house put a restriction clause so that it may not be used for the purposes of a business except those of … or an accountant. At the time I bought it I was deemed to be an Actuary so when I needed to work from home I reckoned it would be difficult for anyone to claim damages. But there are obviously many people who do not have jobs where they can look down their noses at accountants and could be sued for using their home as a workplace.

  18. There’s going to be some fun when people who have worked from home for 6months or more start asking about tax position and if they can claim anything

  19. Working from home in U.S. you can claim depreciation on part of home used for work. Like that room in your house will have no value in 30 years. It is somewhat goofy. My accountant told me not to do it. More trouble than it’s worth.

  20. Who uses their home working area ‘solely’ for work purposes? If anyone has at least one non-work use for the room, then presumably this policy is not binding in the form in which it written.

  21. @TMB
    Pub owner occupiers have been fined for smoking in pub bit when it’s closed

    A B&B land-lady too when closed for family Christmas & New Year

    Stasi never sleep

  22. @ Adrian
    For several years I did. (I don’t now, because I do hardly any work, but I used to do so – in my previous house part of a windowless basement so I had nil incentive to be there when not working.)

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