Smoking breaks at work cost British businesses £8.4bn a year, study findsCigarette breaks at work cost British businesses £8.4bn a year in lost productivity of smokers who disappear for a cigarette for 10 minutes four times a day, new research reveals.
We've been through this before, haven't we? It's quite simple...
1. All workers are entitled to breaks by law. Nonsmokers use them to have a coffee. Smokers use them to have a coffee and a cigarette.
2. The relationship between minutes worked and worker output is not as crudely linear as these kind of studies assume. Productivity has increased greatly in the last 100 years despite working hours falling. The three day week saw a surprising small reduction productivity despite working hours being reduced by 40 per cent. "The goal isn’t really to do more; it’s to accomplish more."
3. There is evidence that work breaks make employees more productive.
4 There is evidence that nicotine improves performance in many areas.
5. Most - probably all - jobs involve periods of intense activity and periods of relative quiet. A break taken at a moment when you would otherwise be hanging around (waiting for a delivery, having your computer fixed, etc.) cannot affect your productivity.
6. If smoking breaks cost business £8.4bn, then nonsmoking breaks - assuming 30 minutes a day and a smoking prevalence of 20 per cent - must cost something in the region of £24bn. Should we ban work breaks or do we accept that breaks make for a happier, less error-prone and more productive work force?
7. If smoking breaks made smokers less productive than nonsmokers, employers would have got wise to it by now and stopped employing them. The fact that very few companies discriminate against smokers suggests that they know better. The few that do discriminate against them (eg. the WHO) do so for ideological reasons, not efficiency reasons.
8. Even if smoking breaks reduced productivity, it would - strictly speaking - be an externality created by smoking bans, not smoking per se.