Council smokers “clock off” on fag breaks

THURROCK Council have joined the growing band of councils across the country who are forcing their staff to “clock out” every time they take a cigarette break reports The Independent.

Since the ban on smoking in public places came into force in England and Wales in 2007, huddles of smokers have become a common sight outside office buildings as they comply with legislation which bans smoking rooms and requires a smoke-free working environment.

But the ability of the 22 per cent of adult Britons who smoke to indulge their habit outside the workplace is coming under renewed scrutiny from local authorities.

Thurrock have joined Breckland in Norfolk as well as Newcastle City Council and Carmarthenshire County Council.

Forest, the group which lobbies for smokers, said that smokers were being unfairly singled out for additional restrictions. Director Simon Clark said: “Are they going to introduce clocking in and off for people who go on the internet, on Facebook, or people who want to have a cup of coffee? Many smokers believe having the occasional cigarette allows them to refocus.”

Employment experts said that most private sector companies had stopped short of specifying that workers must subtract their smoking breaks from their working day and instead required any such breaks to form part of their statutory rest periods. Companies such as British Airways and HSBC, two of Britain’s biggest employers, said they had no particular policy on smoking breaks and expected staff to “apply common sense”.

Ben Willmott, senior public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “There is an issue of fairness here. In many cases, smokers might welcome the opportunity not to have a cigarette – the research shows that seven out of 10 smokers would like to give up.”

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