Smokers face backlash from colleagues

By James Fuller

11 comments


Many UK workers think smokers should be docked pay for excessive cigarette breaks, a survey has found, and the view is supported in the Bay of Plenty.

The poll for UK consumer website Watch My Wallet said 75 per cent of employees thought smokers' pay should be adjusted for time lost to smokos. It said 58 per cent were angry over colleagues spending time lighting up.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Max Mason supports the survey's findings.

"It's great to see a survey that clearly illustrates that workplace colleagues really resent the impact smokers have. The typical cigarette break every hour is a measurable loss of productivity, which means their colleagues in the team have to work harder.

"It also means employers have higher salary costs. In addition smokers can be more prone to taking sick leave."

He said smokers hanging around the entrance to a building was a poor image, as were employees who reeked of smoke when they attended meetings with customers.

Mr Mason said the wider issue of healthcare costs should also be considered.

"Imagine how much good we could do if we could re-allocate the millions spent on smoking associated healthcare costs. Education, early childhood care, funding of innovation and many other areas could benefit with more resources. To be frank the Government's target of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025 is too timid. I believe they would get overwhelming support from the public if they were bolder and gave smokers five years to quit."

Phil Van Syp, managing director of 1st Call Recruitment in Tauranga, said he could see the rationale behind docking smokers' pay for excessive breaks. "I can't see why not. You're not working. But if you're going to clamp down on smokers the rules have to be the same for everyone. If you're having excessive coffee breaks the same policy should be imposed. It has to be consistent."

Mr Van Syp said he knew of companies, especially in the food industry, where people were made to go offsite to smoke. Other firms had built outdoor shelters for smokers.

"I worked at a company where smoking was addressed in the contract. People could smoke during the allotted breaks but outside of that you could be dismissed for taking extra breaks to smoke. The contract stated smoking was not part of the job, you're supposed to be working."

Ex-smoker Bronwyn Lewer said she sympathised with smokers but agreed smoking outside of normal breaks should not be permitted.

"If people are going to take extra breaks their pay should be docked and that's from a former smoker's point of view. Why should non-smokers lose out on an extra five minutes break because they don't smoke? At the end of the day it's a personal choice to smoke."

Miss Lewer, from Judea, used to smoke between 10 and 20 cigarettes a day. She gave up five years ago after falling pregnant. She said the pressure on smokers was increasing.

"I worked in hospitality for 18 years and it wasn't a problem to nick off for a cigarette then."

The nature of the business was also a factor.

"It's the environment you work in. In places like bars everyone does it so it's not such an issue but if you're working in a supermarket others would have to pick up the slack."

Another recent survey, for news.com.au found that 38 per cent of respondents said smokers' wages should be cut, while 35 per cent advised giving smokers shorter lunch breaks to compensate.

One of the area's largest employers, Tauranga City Council, does not have a specific policy on employees taking cigarette breaks.

"Staff smoke during their normal breaks or negotiate with their managers to work out when any type of break is taken, smoking or not," said council spokeswoman Alison Clifford.

However, an initiative is under discussion proposing Tauranga public areas - such as sportsfields, bus stops, car parks, pools, halls, stadiums, the Historic Village and children's playgrounds - be subject to smoking bans.

"We are currently developing a smokefree public places policy to go out for consultation either later this year or early next year," said Ms Clifford.


 

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 17 Apr 2014 21:48:36 Processing Time: 701ms