A Japanese company is granting non-smoking employees an extra six days of paid holidays a year after they complained that they were working more than staff who took time off for cigarette breaks.
Tokyo-based marketing firm Piala Inc. only introduced the non-smokers' perk in September, but employees have been quick to take advantage.
"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", said Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, according to Daily Telegraph.
"Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving non-smokers some extra time off to compensate", Matsushma told The Telegraph.
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Resentment among the non-smokers grew because the company's head office is on the 29th floor of an office block in the Ebisu district of Tokyo. Anyone wanting a cigarette had to go to the basement level, with each smoking break lasting around 15 minutes.
"I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion", Takao Asuka, the Piala Inc CEO, told Kyodo News.
To date, no fewer than 30 of the company's 120 employees have taken additional days off under the new system since it was introduced, said Matsushima - himself a non-smoker who has used the additional paid holidays to take his family to a hot spring resort for a couple of days.
The scheme has also encouraged four people to give up smoking, he added.
According to the World Health Organisation, 21.7 per cent of Japanese adults smoke, although the figure is higher among males and older generations.
Japanese companies are increasing efforts to protect employees from the impact of second-hand smoke, with Lawson Inc, an operator of 24-hour convenience stores, in June banning smoking in its head office and regional offices.