Smoking breaks at work are considered a sensitive topic and sometimes people have a few doubts about them. Are employees allowed to take them? What’s considered legal and what is tolerable? What do employers think?

Let’s get one thing straight: workers have the right to a rest break if they work for more than 6 hours a day, but smoking breaks at work are not mentioned. They usually spend that time having lunch. However, employers cannot forbid employees to smoke during their break. What about the rest of the day? Many people think that leaving the desk to take an additional break is not fair towards non-smokers, but it’s also true that they can have other (less “visible”) breaks during the working time. So, where does the truth stand?

Smoking takes time!

It is estimated that on average a person who smokes during office hours spends around 1 hour a day outside, usually divided into 4 breaks of 15 minutes. Smoking at work, I mean indoors and sometimes even on the property or your employer, became illegal in 2007 and people have been doing smoking breaks since then. So, that’s a lot of hours spent away from the desk every year. Consider that in 2019 UK citizens had around 253 working days. This means that a generic worker could have spent 253 working hours smoking cigarettes! Yes, you’re right: in a typical 8-hours job this would mean more than one month off!

Of course employers are not really fond on this, but there’s a way to control this phenomenon: establish common rules. I think it’s important for companies and employers in general to create a smoking policy at work, in order to respect every employee and safeguard both non-smokers and smokers’ rights at work. It’s important to create guidelines and to give some freedom to employees, as well.

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Smoking breaks are important for workers

As for the general mood, it wouldn’t be a great idea to prevent people from taking, let’s say, a small break in the morning and one in the afternoon. Actually, it also boosts concentration and productivity. And keep in mind that it is important for colleagues to socialize and bond during those short moments away from their desks in order to build a strong team.

Some bosses ask employees to clock in and out when it comes to smoking at work, but I think that’s a little dramatic. It would be easier to give everyone two 10-minute-breaks a day, in addition to the rest break. Sounds like a good compromise, doesn’t it? It wouldn’t be a waste of time because it may actually make employees more productive between said breaks – whether they are spent smoking, chatting or drinking a cup of coffee.

What’s your opinion about smoking breaks at work? Let me know in the comments!

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