Smoking in company vehicles
Thu Oct 29, 2015 | By: Freight Transport Association
Reminder of law on smoking in company vehicles

The Smoke Free Regulations 2007 apply in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and state that vehicles used for work, regardless of whether it is a heavy goods vehicle, van or company car require that vehicles are to be smoke free if they are enclosed.
The regulation covers vehicles used:

  • for the transport of members of the public or a section of the public (whether or not for hire and reward) or
  • for work by more than one person (even if the persons who work there do so at different times, or only intermittently), even if they are all smokers

The regulations are aimed at protecting shift and other workers who use the same vehicle from the health risks associated with second-hand smoke and provide consistency with non-mobile workplaces.
However, smoking will be permitted in vehicles that are for the sole use of the driver. This may encompass self-employed drivers and company cars that are not used as a workplace by anyone else, such as other staff members, customers or occasional drivers.

This applies without exemption to all rental vehicles.

From 1 October 2015 it became illegal to smoke in a car (or other vehicles) with anyone under 18 present. The law changed to protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Both the driver and the smoker could be fined £50. The law applies to every driver in England and Wales, including those aged 17 and those with a provisional driving licence. The law does not apply if the driver is 17 years old and are in their own in the car.

Defra consults on plans to improve UK air quality

The UK has reported exceedances of the annual mean EU limit value for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in 38 out of an overall 43 zones, with the hourly limit also breached in London. The latest data indicate that seven zones are projected to continue to exceed limit values in 2020. The main cities affected are London, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton. Government is developing a Clean Air Zones (CAZs) framework for these local authorities needing to introduce low emission zones (LEZs) to improve air quality; this aims to make it easier for businesses operating fleets across the UK and to avoid a patchwork of differing schemes. The Euro standard for diesel would be Euro 6/Euro VI and for petrol Euro 4. As well as the plans already in place for Greater London, LEZs involving trucks and vans are also modelled for Birmingham and Leeds. The full framework will be set out in early 2016.

According to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), one of the main reasons the UK is not meeting the limits is the failure of diesel light duty vehicle Euro standards to adequately reduce emissions in real world use. For freight, Defra notes the opportunities for alternative fuels and low carbon technologies.  It will be important to monitor the performance of Euro 6 light duty vehicles as they come to market. The consultation closes on 6 November 2015.

ECJ ruling on journeys to work for workers with no fixed place of work

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has made a ruling on “the journeys made by workers without fixed or habitual place of work between their homes and the first and last customer of the day” stating that such journeys constitute working time. The ruling declares that, “where workers [in particular circumstances],do not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent by those workers travelling each day between their homes and the premises of the first and last customers designated by their employer constitutes working time within the meaning of the directive”.

Those particular circumstances relate to the details of the case which led to the ruling; in 2011, Spanish security system installer and maintainer, Tyco, made the decision to close all its regional offices, administer all work from its head office in Madrid and have workers start and end their working day from home. The ruling emphasises that this applies only where the employee has no choice but to travel to their first appointment from home, stating: “The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

FTA is pursuing further guidance on the impact of this ruling with the Department for Transport, particularly on the issue of determining employee choice. 

 This post via the Freight Transport Association .