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A Japanese-based firm recently granted its non-smoking employees additional holiday. Should UK employers follow suit by considering introducing such a policy? Sue Kelly and Selena Arbe-Barnes from Winckworth Sherwood consider how it might work.
Following the suggestion of an employee, a Tokyo-based firm has recently introduced a policy to reward non-smokers with six additional days of paid holiday a year.
The employee from the marketing firm, Piala Inc, took umbrage with the amount of time his smoking colleagues spent away from their desks on cigarette breaks and made his frustrations known to his superiors by placing a comment in the company’s suggestion box.
The firm’s offices are located on the 29th floor of a Tokyo skyscraper, which means that cigarette breaks last on average 15 minutes.
With smokers likely to take multiple breaks in the day, it was felt by a number of disgruntled, non-smoking employees that they should be given extra time off to compensate for the fact they were working for longer than their counterparts who smoke.
Japan, the so-called “smoker’s paradise”, lags behind in curbing second-hand smoke in public places. It has been slow to promote anti-smoking efforts when compared with the rest of the world and it is thought that only 10% of Tokyo’s bars and restaurants are completely smoke-free.
Good time to quit?
The introduction of the policy comes as Tokyo prepares for the 2020 Olympic Games and is making significant efforts for the Games to be held in a smoke-free environment.
Since the policy was introduced in September, there has been a reasonable take up on the scheme, with one quarter of employees having already taken additional days of holiday, while four of Piala’s 120 employees have given up smoking.
Rather than penalising employees for smoking, it is hoped