WE’RE GOING SMOKE-FREE AT ŠKODA AUTO
It’s normal not to smoke
On 21 September, there was an open discussion on non-smoking with Marek Jancák and Štěpán Lacina
he carmaker became a completely smoke-free company on 1 September. After a series of discussions and in agreement with the KOVO Trade Union, ŠKODA AUTO followed up on the hygiene and safety measures it had introduced during the pandemic to protect the health of its employees. Nevertheless, the company-wide ban on smoking is sparking heated discussions even among non-smokers now. About 75 percent of them are at the carmaker. “We’re not throwing the minority of our employees overboard; we’re ready to lend a helping hand. However, they must also take part in this effort”, said Marek Jancák, Head of the PF – Car Production, during a discussion with our employees. “It’s better to be on the side that says ‘Let’s not smoke but take care of our health’ than to be on the other side”, added Štěpán Lacina, Head of SP – Human Resources Planning, pointing to several employee programmes that promote a healthy lifestyle. As part of its new measures, ŠKODA AUTO abolished smoking corners and designated smoking areas throughout the company. They are now being repurposed for the leisure time of all employees, not just smokers. “We did not build any corners for non-smokers, while one new smoking corner costs CZK 200,000 at current prices, which would mean investing CZK 7 million in renovation in the whole car factory”, Š. Jancák pointed out, adding that it does not make sense to invest in harming one’s health. And since even substitutes for regular cigarettes, such as IQOS or electronic versions, pose some health risks, the carmaker, in agreement with the KOVO Trade Union, sought a uniform ban on all tobacco products without distinction.
It will soon be a given that we don’t smoke at ŠKODA AUTO.
ŠKODA AUTO’s management is fully aware that this is a difficult and polarising issue with a number of positive and negative consequences. Some of these were already present before the ban, such as smoking outside designated areas which also exposed non-smokers to second-hand smoking and increased the risk of fire. “We are investing considerably in fire prevention and risk minimisation. It should be noted that if something happens, an employee not only risks losing their job but also has criminal liability. Already, several employees have lost their jobs for violating the measures”, according to Š. Lacina. However, he said the goal of the measure is not to re-educate smokers. “We’re not saying that a person should stop smoking; we’re not trying to make them quit. We’re only saying that they will not smoke during working hours and while on the ŠKODA AUTO premises because it is forbidden here, just like drinking alcohol or taking drugs”, clarified Š. Lacina. That’s why the car maker offers its help to any employee who wants to quit smoking.
ŠKODA AUTO’s latest move has also triggered discussions about a smoking ban in the whole Czech society. “That this will happen is certain. The question is when”, said M. Jancák. Just as cigarettes gradually moved out of the public domain when they were almost completely banned in advertisements in 2002 and in restaurants from 2017, completely non-smoking companies will gradually become common as well. ED
Discipline above all
The ban on smoking on all ŠKODA AUTO premises follows the same rules as the ban on drinking alcohol or lighting fires, etc. The carmaker agreed on these rules with its social partner, the KOVO Trade Union, and together, they have determined the penalties for non-compliance.
Breach of smoking ban
Smoking is considered a breach of work discipline and, in such a case, you disciplinary action awaits. One of them is you may even face employment termination.
Occupational health and safety hazards
A failure to comply with the ban on smoking in highly hazardous areas (storage of combustibles or fuel, etc.), as well as damaging smoke detectors, already constitutes a serious breach of work discipline. This offence will be dealt with by the employer with a notice or immediate termination of employment.
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