A company in Japan is giving its non-smoking employees an extra six days of paid time off per year to make up for smokers’ cigarette breaks.
The Tokyo-based marketing firm Piala Inc. introduced the perk after employees complained that they were working more hours than staff who took time off to smoke a cigarette, according to the Telegraph.
“One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems,” Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, told the newspaper. “Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving non-smokers some extra time off to compensate.”
With the company’s office on the 29th floor of a building, resentment grew among non-smoking employees as anyone craving a cigarette has to go to the basement level, according to the Telegraph — which reported that each break lasted around 15 minutes.
“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion,” Takao Asuka, Piala Inc. CEO, told Kyodo News.
At least 30 of the company’s 120 employees have taken the extra days off, the Telegraph reported. The incentive has also encouraged four people to give up smoking.
The smoking rate in Japan has dropped in recent years, thanks to increasing health awareness, an aging population, tougher regulations and higher cigarette prices, the Japan Times reported. A recent survey by Japan Tobacco found that the smoking rate among people aged 20 and older fell to 17.9 percent in 2018 — compared to 36.1 percent in 1989, according to the newspaper.