Human Resources

Unfair smoko-breaks? Business offers workers extra leave for ditching fags

Matthew Elmas /

A small business owner has made headlines in several countries after kicking off the new decade by offering his employees extra leave — but only if they skip the smoko-breaks.

Don Bryden, managing director of UK-based firm KCJ Training, is offering his non-smoking staff an extra four days of leave each year — and is hoping other firms around the world follow his lead.

Speaking to the Swindon Advertiser — the quotes from which have gone viral over the last 48 hours — the business owner said he made the decision after noticing how the age-old smoko-break eats into company time.

“I was watching the employees that smoke. They have four, five or even 10 cigarettes a day and take around 10 minutes outside each time,” Bryden told the British paper.

“I looked at the other guys during these breaks and they’re always on the phones, typing away and trying to do their work, so I thought they should be compensated.”

The business initially announced the change on Facebook on January 2, 2019, characterising the change as a “non-smoking policy”.

“Cheeky cigarette breaks are a common feature of all office environments so as of right now all of our non smoking office staff have been given an extra 4 days holiday per year!

“We’re proud to incentivise our staff to quit smoking and to create a healthy workplace within our KCJ offices,” the company said.

It’s not the first time a company has experimented with extra leave for workers who drop the fags. Back in 2017, Japanese company Piala Inc. granted non-smoking staff an extra six days off each year, following an employee complaint that smoko-breaks were eating into productivity.

In Australia, employers are responsible for setting reasonable parameters around smoking breaks in the workplace, and while employees are not legally entitled to smoke-breaks specifically, there is a responsibility under workplace health and safety laws to ensure worker wellbeing.

Back in 2017, a worker at a plumbing business won $5,000 in compensation after they were fired for showing up late and taking too many smoke breaks.

NOW READ: Plumbing business ordered to pay worker $5000 after firing her for being late and taking too many smoke breaks

NOW READ: “Bland land”: Aussie department store Harris Scarfe falls into receivership

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany. You can contact him at [email protected].