Letters of the week: staff realign the lunch breaks

At my company the staff work 37.5 hours per week with one hour a day for lunch (News, 10 October). After consultation, we have found that the fairest way to deal with the breaks that smokers take during the day is to realign the lunch break so that it is actually an hour’s break to be taken as the employee wants. We stipulate that at least half an hour be taken around the traditional midday slot so that a reasonable break can be had by all, but the other half hour can be taken as two, (or more), short breaks throughout the day for whatever the employee wants. This way, smokers can take their breaks and non-smokers can also take breaks away from their desks.

After the initial period of everyone policing each other for the odd few minutes overdrawn, we have settled into a relaxed atmosphere of tolerance.

The system will be expanded as our workforce grows, probably a bit more structured but still accepting the basic honesty of all people and their happiness to comply with the adage of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.

Pam Lloyd, HR manager, Sellers Information Pack


Smokers pledge to make up time

I am HR manager for a Birmingham-based company which employs a high percentage of smokers. It was agreed that those people who smoke would forfeit part of their lunchbreak for smoking breaks, to be fair across the board. Smokers sign an agreement that they will honour this and there have been no instances of claims of unfairness.

Lunchbreaks are one hour per day, therefore smokers take a quarter of an hour break in the morning, half hour lunch and a quarter of an hour in the afternoon for smoke breaks. Non-smokers have one hour for lunch.

This works well and removes the problems with non-smokers claiming that they have longer working days.

Mandi Silverwood, HR manager, Accident Assistance (part of GE Insurance Holdings)


In favour of fair treatment for all

I agree with the idea of making smokers make up the time they spend smoking. If it’s part of their lunch break then fine, but why should non-smokers have to work on average an extra 20 minutes more each day.

We have done research into how long smokers spend away from their workspace every day and it averages to about 10 days per year. In our organisation staff are entitled to 20 days holiday per year, unless they are a smoker and they get on average another 10 days holiday. That is 50 per cent more paid time off than anyone else. Is that fair? I rest my case.

Peter Smith, Compensation & benefits adviser, SSA


Strong pound or a weak euro?

I am disappointed that you are making the same mistake as the daily newspapers in referring to a strengthening pound (Features, 10 October).

Against notes and coins currencies like the dollar and the yen, the pound has been stable over the last few years. Compared to the euro, which is only for trading, the problem is euro’s weakness, starting off worth more than 70p and now under 60p. The distinction of which currency is strengthening is all important as it makes it clear where the responsibility for action lies, ie do we weaken the pound or strengthen the euro? The difference is critical. It will also be the basis for weeks of argument if and when we get a referendum. I realise that the semantics of strength and weakness does not make exporting to Europe any easier, but it does clarify the issue for the observer.

Keith Myers, Sage

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