The effective date of Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act is fast approaching leaving many employers with questions about what they should be doing to comply with the new law. Here are some steps that employers may wish to consider in fostering good employee relations and avoiding the civil and criminal penalties associated with violations of the CIAA:
Get Familiar with the Requirements of the Law. An Employer Toolkit is available from the Department of Health setting out the basic requirements of the law. We have posted on the CIAA as follows:
Post Required Signage Designating Nonsmoking Areas. Employers must post signs prohibiting smoking in the workplace and designating outdoor smoking areas that are not too close to entrances or exits. Downloadable signs for both “No Smoking” and “Smoking Permitted” in English and Spanish are available from DOH.
Adopt a Policy on Workplace Smoking for Employees and Customers. Adopting a policy is not an express requirement of the law but makes good sense for effective employee communications and to establish the employer’s good faith defense to civil and criminal penalties under the law. The DOH (through its partner PACT) has a sample policy, which I do not recommend. At a minimum, a policy should designate the all indoor workplace areas as nonsmoking and, if elected, those outdoor areas where smoking is permitted. Other restrictions on smoking such as time and frequency of breaks should be addressed. The consequences of violating the policy should be set forth along with acknowledgment of the CIAA anti-retaliation provisions for employees who complain about violations.
Conduct Training for Supervisors and Employees. Employers should notify employees of the new law and its restrictions either in conjunction with introduction of the policy or otherwise. Avoid pitting the smokers against the nonsmokers. This is a state law, you don’t have a choice. Mention of the criminal fines and consequences of violation of the law is appropriate.
Consider a Smoking Cessation Program to help Smokers Adapt to the New Law. As mentioned previously, the CIAA may be a chance to offer a wellness program including a smoking cessation component.
Apply for Necessary Exemptions. Drinking Establishments, Cigar Bars, and Tobacco Shops should apply for an exemption if they intend to allow smoking under the exemptions provided in the CIAA.