We are often asked about smoking breaks by our clients because there are lots of common myths about breaks in general; how long can an employee take, how often should breaks be taken and should you be paying employees for their breaks – these are all very common questions for business owners to raise.
Smoking breaks are often difficult for employers to manage. Smokers can almost demand them as a right and non-smokers can feel they should be getting the same number of breaks as their colleagues who smoke.
A new client of ours recently asked for some support around this issue in their business. The first thing we asked is what is the cost to the business of employees smoking breaks. They had no idea but were staggered when we did some analysis and reported the results back to them.
Their workforce included 10 smokers whose average operational cost (including salary, NI, pension etc) was £48 per hour. Each smoker was taking on average 1.5 hours each week in additional breaks so the total cost to the business each year was over £34,000.
This is a massive hit for any business to take and action needed to be taken, with a number of options being available.
Our preferred option is always education. Communicate with your staff that smoking breaks have a significant cost impact on the business and attempt to come to a mutually agreed way forward. You could put some incentives in place to help your staff give up smoking and this would help to create a culture of support within your business. You could make changes to your staff handbook to enforce a smoke free environment or at least to make clear that additional breaks over and above those stated in your contract are not allowed.
The Simple Take is: If it is costing your business, take action!
If you are considering making some changes in your business around smoking breaks, contact us today to see how we can help.