TOKYO – A Japanese firm has laid out a program to compensate its non-smoking employees by giving them an extra six-day leave because they do not take the breaks in order to smoke, a spokesperson of the company told EFE on Wednesday.
The initiative, known as “Sumokyu” – wordplay using “smoke” and a Japanese word for “break” – was rolled out by a Tokyo-based online marketing consultant Piala on Sept. 1, after an employee complained about the time lost because the colleagues went smoking.
The office of the company is on the 29th floor, and it takes between 10 to 15 minutes to visit the smoking zone in the lobby and return.
Some employees smoke several times a day which led to complaints, but given that much of the conversations during these breaks are related to work, the company decided it would be better to compensate non-smokers, instead of taking action against those who smoke.
The initiative has led to four of the 42 smokers – from a workforce of 120 people – to quit smoking, apart from being given extra days of leave if they can continue until the end of the year, according to the spokesperson.
Many Japanese companies have banned smoking at work and set up rooms for smokers, however measures like the one adopted by Piala are unusual.
Among the developed nations, Japan is one of the most permissive when it comes to smoking; the law allows smoking in restaurants and bars without the premises having to designate a smoking area, whereas it is banned on the streets.
The Japanese government is considering the approval of the new measures to further implement its anti-tobacco law, with some sections calling for a ban on cigarettes in all public establishments in preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games.