Some European companies and government offices are sticking it to their tobacco-loving employees, forcing them to punch the clock any time they step out for a cigarette break. In France, Belgium and Italy, the policy has sparked controversy and left smoke
Should cigarette breaks be deducted from working hours? The debate rages on in France, where a few companies have begun requiring employees to take their ID cards off when heading outside for a puff, and put them on again when returning to their desks.
The issue has come up in other parts of Europe as well. This past summer the registry office in Florence, Italy began docking smokers for their frequent breaks. And as of this week, civil servants in Walloonia, the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium, are also being obliged to deduct their cigarette breaks.
"The rule is that whenever you go out or in the building, you have to clock out and clock in," Hugo Poliart, a spokesman for the Walloon regional administration, announced on Monday.
For now, France does not plan on changing the legislation concerning cigarette breaks. "This debate doesn't shock me at all," says Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg, president of the Office Français de Prévention du Tabagime (OFT), an association the raises public awareness about the risks of smoking. "It has to be done one company after another, without stigmatizing smokers. Employees going out to buy newspapers or chilling out in the sun will also have to clock out."
According to a study conducted by the OFT in 2008, an employee who smokes more than 20 cigarettes a day could spend up to 80 minutes outside the office everyday.
Read the full story in French by Fabrice Amedeo
Photo - jfgornet
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