How far can our company go in prohibiting employees from smoking? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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How far can our company go in prohibiting employees from smoking?

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Q. We are committed to providing a healthy and safe environment for our workforce. To that end, we strictly prohibit smoking on company property. Can we also prohibit employees from smoking during their lunch breaks and outside of work?

A. You can prohibit employees from smoking on company property at all times, even during breaks. However, Illinois law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who use lawful products during nonwork hours. Lawful products include, but are not limited to, tobacco, alcohol, over-the-counter or legally prescribed drugs and food.

This law applies to all employers, except nonprofit organizations dedicated to discouraging the general public’s use of a lawful product. This law also does not apply when using a lawful product impairs an employee’s ability to perform his or her job duties. Therefore, unless one of these exceptions applies, you cannot prohibit your employees from smoking on their personal time.

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