Staff member takes excessive smoking breaks

What is the official HR policy on smoking breaks? One member of staff has complained about another taking excessive time out.

Under the Working Time Regulations an adult worker is permitted an uninterrupted ‘rest break’ of at least 20 minutes if they work more than six hours – this can include lunch breaks, coffee breaks, etc.

This is normally set out in a contract of employment. There is no statutory right to smoking breaks. Each organisation will have their own smoking policy that may specify how time away from work is managed.

Many organisations will have an informal policy. If an employee is affected by the time smokers are spending away from work, the first point of call would be to the line manager or supervisor who will know the company policy, who should discuss this with the ‘smoker’ and explain the impact on others. This can be a sensitive matter and it is important for a consistent message to be sent across an organisation.

Related advice: What are an employee’s rights on smoking within the work day?

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