Japanese firm gives non-smokers extra six days holiday

Saturday, 04 Nov, 2017

"I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion", Takao Asuka, the company's CEO, told Kyodo News.

Piala, a Tokyo-based online commerce consulting and marketing company, made a decision to kick-start the programme after an employee complained about the time lost work by smoking colleagues.

But instead of punishing the smokers, the company wound up rewarding the non-smokers, giving them six extra vacation days a year.

Still, in addition to Piala, some private Japanese companies are taking it upon themselves to curb smoking rates among their employees. After the offer was announced in September, four employees chose to give up smoking, the company said. Some employers in Canada offer on-site smoking cessation programs or a health incentive to join a sporting activity or gym, says Rob Cunningham, but he doesn't know of a company offering extra vacation for non-smokers.

Smoke breaks are particularly time-consuming at the company - about 15 minutes each - because smokers must travel from the office on the 29th floor to the basement. It was only this past year that the percentage of Japanese adults who smoke fell below 20 percent.

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He said the policy was installed as a benefit for nonsmokers to compensate for smoking breaks taken by their colleagues.

Smoking is a big part of Japan's business culture, with office buildings often offering indoor smoking rooms.

Earlier this year, Tokyo's governor Yuriko Koike said he planned to impose a smoking ban in public places across city ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

There are many western countries which encourages smoking in restaurants and work areas. Reportedly, a lot of staff who used to smoke have quit smoking owing to this incentive. Now that he has additional vacation leaves because of the paid leave allowance, he plans to use his extra time off to play tennis.