Smoke Breaks

May 11, 2016

Many employers who allow smoking or smoke breaks in the workplace often complain about the amount of productivity that is lost because of the frequent smoke breaks employees take. What makes it worse is employees usually want company when they have a smoke. If an employer is faced with this kind of problem, there is a solution.
If smoke breaks are provided during work hours, it is one area that an employer must monitor closely. The last thing an employer wants is to have productivity grounding to a halt when three or four employees congregate for long periods during smoke breaks.
Here are five ways that an employer can use to control the smoke breaks employees take to ensure that productivity is not compromised:

  1. Find a way to record the amount of time a smoker spends on smoke breaks, for example have a clocking system;
  2. Ensure the smoking area is not too far from the workplace so employees do not waste time getting to in the office;
  3. Limit the number of smoke breaks employees can take during working hours, for example, restrict smoke breaks to lunch breaks and tea time;
  4. Limit the duration of smoke breaks. For example, the employer can designate specific smoking times, impose a smoking shift system so employees do not all smoke at the same time;
  5. Ensure the smoking area is visible (glass partitions) so the amount of time employees spend in the areas can be monitored or install a CCTV camera to monitor employees.

Using these methods will help ensure employee smoke breaks do not compromise productivity. The reduced smoking time could also encourage smokers to quit smoking.

The content does not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Kindly contact us on or 021 556 1075 to speak to one of our consultants.


Wallace Albertyn

Wallace Albertyn is a Senior Associate and Legal Advisor at LabourMan Consultants.

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