At the workplace

We believe that everyone is entitled to healthy working conditions. For us, this naturally includes the right to a smoke-free workplace.

However, unlike in other sectors, in the catering and accommodation industry this is not always a given. The non-smoker protection laws currently in force in Germany do little to change this, as some of these laws contain exemptions that still deny employees in the hospitality industry healthy working conditions.

We therefore believe that all businesses in the catering and accommodation sector must be smoke-free if they employ staff or temporary workers. We do not differentiate between establishments with a fixed location or those that are only operated on a seasonal or mobile basis (tents). We consider exceptions to this rule for a transitional period of no more than four years, provided that

  • these are companies in which only the owner works. By owner, we mean a shareholding of at least 25%. This is the only way to prevent bogus self-employment and circumvention; and
  • no employees or temporary workers are employed.

A non-smoking provision has been part of the Workplace Ordinance for years. However, it does not effectively protect those it is supposed to: employees are entitled to a smoke-free workplace but they have to demand it themselves and risk bullying and dismissal if the management is not on their side. The trade authorities are responsible for enforcement. However, it is usually futile to approach them as they tend to refer to the vaguely worded exemption regulation and thus leave the passive smoking victim out in the cold. To this day, we are not aware of any successful interventions by the trade authorities.

We are calling for a complete overhaul of the non-smoking provision. A smoke-free workplace should be the employer’s responsibility, not the employee’s. We demand random inspections of companies, an anonymous hotline for those affected and clearly defined exceptions.

The state has a duty to adequately protect all employees from hazards including exposure to particulate matter and chemicals, to which strict regulations apply. It is unacceptable that employees in the catering industry are not protected and are therefore second-class citizens, whereas elsewhere the premises would have had to be evacuated long ago in the event of such concentrations of particulate matter. The federal and state governments must no longer pass the buck to each other. There must finally be a nationwide ban on smoking in all workplaces without exception, which is why the Workplace Ordinance must be amended accordingly.

In general, all private premises must also be included in the non-smoking protection, provided they are open to the public. This applies in particular to hairdressing salons, shopping centers, doctors’ surgeries and other publicly accessible establishments.