Smoking during work hours? The employer pays quite a bit (Photo: ShutterStock)
Today (Wednesday) marks a smoke-free day around the world, designed to encourage 24 hours of abstinence from all forms of smoking. In addition, this day serves to raise awareness of the health effects of smoking, which currently cause more than 7 million deaths each year worldwide, of which about 890,000 are the result of exposure of non-smokers to secondhand smoke.
According to data from the Ministry of Health, the smoking rate in Israel stands at about 20%: the smoking rate among men is about 25.6%, which is higher than the average in the EU countries, which stands at 22.5%, and the smoking rate among women stands at about 14.8%, which is also higher than the EU average of 13.9%.
The damage caused to the economy as a result of coping with smoking morbidity is billions of shekels, but it is doubtful whether the Central Bureau of Statistics or any other research entity examined the following aspect: What is the average period of time during which an employee who smokes is absent from work for this purpose, and how much money does the employer lose accordingly?
In order to examine this issue, a recent survey was recently conducted by Oketz Systems, a company that provides computerized solutions in the field of manpower. The survey was conducted among 10 companies with 3,459 employees, of whom 742 smokers. The data show that a smoker takes an average of 4 smoking breaks a day, with an average amount of time wasted for this purpose being about 8.45 minutes. This means that the employee wastes about 33.8 minutes per shift smoking.
Therefore, when calculating an hourly job of 5 working days a week, it turns out that we are talking about an absence of 169 minutes, or in other words: 2.81 hours. In monthly terms, we already reach high numbers: 11.2 hours, and when it comes to a one-year period (312 working days, according to National Insurance data), the result is disturbing: 4.5 days a year. And that, as mentioned, is the amount of time wasted by only one employee.
Double damage. Haim Molcho (Photo: PR)
There is no obligation to allow an employee to take a smoking break
Oketz Systems notes that an employer is not obligated to allow an employee to take smoking breaks, beyond what is required by the Hours of Work and Rest Law. As part of the law, it was determined that on a work day of 6 hours or more, work would be stopped for rest of at least 3/4 hour, including a continuous break of half an hour per day.
In addition, there is a permit according to which it is permissible to employ 8 hours without a break a worker who does not do manual labor 6 days a week, and 9 hours without a break where workers work 5 days a week, in work that is not manual labor. In addition, during a continuous break of half an hour, the employee may leave the workplace and the break will not be considered part of the working hours, unless his presence is necessary for the work process and he is required to remain at work, then the break will be considered part of the working day.
In addition, the Hours of Work and Rest Law stipulates that an employee may pray during his work day in accordance with the requirements of his religion and in accordance with the needs and constraints of the work. The law also states that during the working day an employee is entitled to stop working in order to use the bathroom according to his needs. A similar provision does not exist regarding smoking breaks and therefore there is no obligation to allow this to the employee beyond the specified breaks.
Haim Molcho, CEO of Oketz Systems, notes that the damage caused to the employer by an employee who smokes twice as much: "The employee is paid NIS 4,500 for smoking breaks, even though he did not work fully. To this must be added the negative impact on labor productivity."
- Non-smoking day