Employees at a company in Swindon are being rewarded with four extra days of holiday if they don’t smoke.

Recruitment agency KCJ Training and Employment Solutions introduced the policy on 2 January to compensate staff who do not smoke, rather than penalising those who do.

Managing director Don Bryden, who is a smoker himself, introduced the policy in the hope that it would inspire employees to quit, and force other businesses to follow suit. 

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Inspire Creative Media's James Hackett, who is representing Mr Bryden, said the company was inspired to introduce the policy after reading about businesses doing the same in Japan. 

“Reading that got Don thinking,” Mr Hackett told The Independent. “It’s an awful lot of time for smokers to take out smoking.” 

Mr Bryden calculated that if smokers at his business are taking three 10-minute smoke breaks every day of the week, it adds up to over 16 days every year. 

So he decided to compensate non-smokers with the additional four days.

“The way he sees it, it’s discriminating against non-smokers not to do this,” said Mr Hackett. “It’s not great when you’re sat at your desk and the smokers can get up and take a break and you’re just sat there.”

A 2014 study by the British Heart Foundation and the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimated that smoking breaks cost British businesses £8.4bn a year in lost productivity if smokers disappear for 10-minute breaks four times a day.

Mr Bryden said that the policy has already been embraced by smokers and non-smokers at the company – out of 11 employees, around half currently smoke. 

Since the policy was introduced one employee has permanently quit smoking, and two others are trying, said Mr Hackett.

The new policy stipulates that if employees give up smoking for a year then they will be entitled to the four days extra holiday as well. 

Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) says employees are entitled to an uninterrupted break of at least 20 minutes for every six hours worked per day.

But longer breaks like a lunch hour or smoking breaks are at the discretion of the employer.

The Office for National Statistics says in the UK, 16.5 per cent of men (around 3.9 million people) and 13 per cent of women (around 3.2 million) are smokers.

Mr Hackett said the company see this as the “evolution of smoking law” and it is the next logical step for business owners to take.

Back in the day people could smoke at their desks, now they have to go outside, this is just the next step,” he said. “We’re already looking for the next thing we can do.”

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