• International Workplace
  • 21 November 2017

Non-smokers given extra six days’ holiday

A Japanese marketing firm is granting its non-smoking staff an additional six days of leave a year to make up for the time off smokers take for cigarette breaks.

Piala Inc introduced the new paid leave allowance in September after non-smokers complained they were working more than their colleagues who smoked.

The company is based on the 29th floor of an office block, meaning any cigarette break was lasting at least 15 minutes, according to staff.

One non-smoker put a message in the company suggestion box complaining that smoking breaks were causing problems, which was followed by company CEO Takao Asuka’s decision to give non-smoking employees extra time off to compensate. 

Mr Asuka hopes the scheme will create an incentive for the company’s staff to quit smoking. He said:

“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion.”

The holiday-compensation policy was only introduced in September, but it’s already proved popular with staff, with around 30 out of 120 employees having taken extra days off.

Four of the employees even decided to quit smoking for good.

In England, smoke-free legislation was introduced in 2007, banning smoking in nearly all enclosed workplaces and public spaces. However, according to Blocks Solicitors, an employer cannot make an employee give up smoking in their own time and away from work.

An employer is, however, allowed to decide not to recruit smokers, and in fact can advertise for non-smokers, though it may be hard to do anything about it if that employee later starts smoking in their own time. Blocks Solicitors says:

“There will be very few jobs where smoking in private life is relevant enough to the job to give the employer any reason to get involved.

“Employees do not have the right to take extra breaks for smoking, even if they go outside. There is no requirement to give time for smoking breaks in addition to the set breaks from work which the law requires for everyone. Employers are increasingly imposing limits on the amount of time or number of breaks employees are allowed to take for the purposes of smoking in order to control productivity and to prevent resentment arising on the part of non-smoking employees. It adds up: ten minutes twice a day is more time off than going home an hour-and-a-half early once a week.”