A Japanese company has started giving its non-smoking employees extra paid leave to compensate them for their co-workers’ cigarette breaks, according to The Telegraph.
The Telegraph on Monday reported that Tokyo’s Piala Inc. now gives its non-smoking staff six extra days of paid holidays annually after they complained about the firm’s smoking policy.
Piala then introduced the non-smokers’ perk last month, and the marketing firm’s employees have quickly embraced the change.
“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,” Piala spokesman Hirotaka Matushima said.
“Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving non-smokers some extra time to compensate,” he added.
Piala’s head office is on the 29th floor of an office block in Tokyo’s Ebisu district, meaning smokers would get a 15-minute-break to smoke by the building’s basement level.
Matsushima said that fewer than 30 of the company’s 120 employees have taken days off since Piala implemented the new system.
“I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion,” Piala CEO Takao Asuka told Kyodo News.
Matsushima said that the new policy inspired four people to give up smoking, adding that he is a non-smoker who has used the additional paid holidays for a family trip.
The spokesman noted that his family had used the additional time to visit a hot spring resort for a few days.
About 21.7 percent of Japanese adults smoke, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), although the figure rises among males and older generations.
Lawson Inc., an operator of 24-hour convenience stores in Japan, also banned smoking in its head and regional offices last June.
Japanese companies are boosting their efforts to protect their employees from the negative health effects of second-hand smoke.