It's one of those things that most people seem to have accepted about the working world. Everyone gets breaks at work, but smokers seem to get more because they're always off to light up every couple of hours. Well no more, says one Japanese company, and is offering extra holiday to make up for it.
Marketing firm Piala Inc introduced the new policy in September, after non-smokers complained they were working more than their cigarette-loving colleagues. As a result non-smokers will get an extra six days of paid leave to make up for it.
Because the company is on the 29th floor of a Tokyo office block, anyone wanting to take a smoking break has to go to the basement level. This means cigarette breaks end up being at least 15 minutes long, so you can see where the non-smokers are coming from.
It's also hoped that the new policy will help smokers quit. While only 30 members of the company's 120 employees have taken advantage of the extra days off since they were introduced, four members of staff has quite smoking as a result.
Encouraging people to give up smoking something Japan has been focussing on more and more in recent months with stricter anti-smoking regulations. The World Health Organisation places the country at the bottom of the list when it comes to anti-smoking law, and it's estimated that 18 per cent of Japanese people smoke. Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike has already announced plans to ban smoking in public places ahead of the 2020 Olympic games.
While these sorts of measures are likely to face opposition from smokers (it doesn't matter where you are, smokers don't like being penalised for their habit), it's a good thing. It's about time the non-smokers got some recompense for not skiving off work during the day - though smoking breaks in this country aren't so absurdly long as Piala's. [The Telegraph via The Independent]