Too many smoke breaks cost a Japanese employee $11,000

The employee apparently spent over 355 hours smoking on duty over a period of 14 years


That the Japanese were not tolerant of smoking is a known fact. However, when an employee was recently slapped with a huge fine for taking too many smoking breaks, the reactions have been rather mixed.

The said Japanese civil servant, a 61-year old director of the company, apparently took too many breaks to smoke cigarettes at his workplace. As per his employer’s records, he took over 4,500 breaks over a period of 14 years. That means, he spent more than 355 hours of his duty hours smoking, and therefore, has been asked to pay a fine of $11,000!

Apparently, the said employee and two of his colleagues were warned several times but they did not heed the same, and are now facing a 10 per cent pay cut for six months.

Media reports say that last year, the human resource department was anonymously informed that the three employees were secretly hoarding and smoking tobacco. However, despite being warned by their supervisor of negative consequences, the three did not mend their ways.

Smoking is totally banned in government offices and public places in Osaka. This ban has been in place for over 15 years now. About four years ago, Osaka put a ban in place to prevent government employees from smoking during duty hours.

Looks like the senior rank of the employee who broke the rules made the ‘crime’ even more serious. He was accused of violating rules and has been asked to pay back 1.44 million yen over and above a pay cut.

However, many people feel this was too harsh a punishment because even tea/coffee breaks during work hours keep employees away from their work and desks. So, it is not fair to penalise someone for smoking breaks.

Back in 2017, when the non-smoking employees of a Japanese firm, Piala Inc., complained to the Company that they work more than their smoker colleagues, the marketing firm came up with a unique way to resolve the issue. It gave six days of additional holidays a year to non-smoking employees to make up for the time smokers took off for cigarette breaks.

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