Going for a smoke? Don't forget to clock out

Mon Nov 1, 2010 1:51pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Workers at a district council in eastern England must now clock off and back on if they take a cigarette break.

Staff at Breckland Council in the eastern English county of Norfolk will no longer be paid for time spent smoking after proposals agreed earlier this year came into force on Monday.

Council leader William Nunn said the policy formalized an agreement made in consultation with staff.

"Our flexible working system allows smokers to take smoking breaks without affecting the amount of time spent working and this brings fairness for all," Nunn said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters on Monday.

Breckland Council said staff have viewed the new smoking breaks policy positively, although there has been no one employed to make certain it was enforced.

Smokers' lobby group Forest said everyone was entitled to a break during work and described the plan as "tyrannical," the BBC reported.

"Many smokers believe having the occasional cigarette allows them to refocus," a Forest spokesman told the BBC.

Staff work at the council to a "flexitime system" which means they take breaks at different times and if they go out to buy a sandwich they clock in and out by swiping their cards.

The new smoking policy is permanent but will be reviewed in six months, the council said.

(Reporting by Paul Casciato, editing by Patricia Reaney)

<p>A woman uses her mobile phone while holding a cigarette in central London February 1, 2010. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/Files</p>