I had an interesting 3 way discussion over Christmas – it was about smoking breaks in the workplace.
I would like to state before I start I don’t really have an opinion either way – I am not a smoker and never have been but was brought up in a house that both parents smoked – and up to 6 months ago a husband that smoked too.
The discussion I had was with a smoker and a non smoker.
The conversation stated with the non smoker saying that in her place of work (which happened to be a Doctors Surgery) the smokers gets to have regular smoke breaks during her shift – albeit it only 5 minutes or so but they could have several in some working session.
She felt that it was unfair on those that did not smoke. Most of the Receptionists worked part-time and therefore did not qualify for a “tea break” but could have tea/coffee while they were working – and she stated that the smokers who had “smoking breaks” also had the team/coffee at their desks along with the non smokers.
I asked the non smoker if they could also take a 5 minute break away from their desk and her reply was it was not possible as there was always so much to do – but the smokers could always find the time.
The smoker of course try to defend herself – she disagreed and said that by having the smoking break gave her the buzz to be able to carry on – if she was not allowed to have that smoking break then she felt that her work would suffer. She was adamant that smokers should be entitled to smoke breaks – and could not see a problem with it.
The discussion got quite heated – both girls feeling that they were in the right – one feeling that she should be allowed several breaks to have a cigarette – the other girl feeling that why her colleague was out having the cigarette she was having to cover and do more work.
They both asked me what I thought.
It did get me thinking – what would I do if two members of staff approached me with a similar problem?
It’s something that you would have to deal with fairly and opened minded. Not let your judgement be swayed if you are a smoker or non smoker.
This could become a big problem in your organisation – so perhaps you need to have a policy on smoking n the workplace – have it written into your staff handbook and even discuss at interviews.
Do not let a situation like this because a big problem in your workplace – have a policy in place. I certainly am going to.