One of our employees is an ex-smoker and is now smoking an electronic cigarette instead of tobacco cigarettes. The employee claims that the e-cigarette contains no harmful products and does not emit smoke, but I understood that some of the brands available of these devices do contain nicotine (I am not sure at what concentration).
Are the same restrictions applicable to e-cigarette smokers as those that apply to tobacco smokers? We are based in Victoria.
You have an obligation under health and safety legislation to do everything reasonably practicable to provide a safe place of work. The sale, use and possession of e-cigarette products which contain nicotine are banned in Victoria. Further, e-cigarettes are subject to the same restrictions as smoking and are prohibited from being used in all smoke-free areas, including enclosed workplaces and outdoor dining areas.
In this respect, employees who use e-cigarettes should be subject to the same restrictions in your workplace as tobacco smokers.
However, please note that there may also be a potential issue with discrimination if the worker is using the e-cigarette to assist with a disability (such as a nicotine addiction). Where this is the case, you would be required to accommodate their use of the e-cigarette. You would need to seek legal advice regarding this.