Do you have a perfume policy at your workplace? If not, this story brings to light that you must plan on one!
The readers of this article are on the jury on the perfume policy incident at this company. What is your take on this “fragrantly annoying” issue?
A recent incident at an office in the Bay Area, CA, brought to my notice on a not too often discussed issue on company policies and management plan – What’s the Perfume Policy at my workplace?
The Sniffle-Scent Story
Susan has been working with this company for the last 12 years, and has been using her present cubicle for the last 5 years. Around 3 weeks back she noticed that she has been having a constant sniffling and eye irritation during certain times of the day. The eye irritation usually always happens in the morning hours and a noticeable change which could have obviously triggered this symptom could be the culprit. About 3 weeks back she has a new occupant in her next door cubicle – Maya, another senior employee who has moved to Susan’s team now. And Maya loves perfumes.
Susan suffered for a week and has vehemently arrived to the decision that it is the perfume which is causing the allergies. She approached Maya and her manager in the same go, emailing them both that Maya must not wear perfume since she is developing allergies and irritations and slowing her down in the day to day duties. Maya must be moved to another cubicle.
Maya is not happy on being told not to wear perfume and says unless there is a company policy against it, she is not willing to comply to this request since she has been wearing perfume to work for many years now. If Susan has some problems she should move to another cubicle or office space.
Over the last week this discussion has travelled through the whole company and now almost everyone is enjoying the new water cooler topic.
So the final verdict: The company had no perfume policy so there’s no one final decision that anyone can propose. Susan has been asked to move to another office space – which as per the manager she deserves being a senior employee (just FYI if you’re not aware of the cubicle-office entropy: an office space is considered a “promotion” from the cubicle) and would keep her away from any other “fragrant” incident.
- Maya agrees to this decision since she feels those who have any problem with scents around should be moved to another area, not her.
- Susan does not like this decision; she says she has been in this cubicle for the last 5 years and Maya should be moved to another cubicle or office space.
- The manager says -what if another employee who moves in that cubicle uses perfume then we would have to go through the cycle again, the one who has the problem must move.
Who is right? The readers of this article are on the jury on the perfume policy incident at this company. What is your take on this “fragrantly annoying” issue?
(Note: all names have been changed here to protect employee identity)
Suggestions on Implementing Perfume Free Policy at your Workplace
- The Lung Association has a scent free policy suggestion for the workplace: Policy for Developing a Scent-Free Workplace – worth a look.
- Some policy guidelines from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.
- And from Lawyers.com – Is a Perfume-Free Workplace Legal?