A Japanese company is rewarding some of its employees with six extra Vacation Days a year with pay. What did these people do to deserve this? It is not what the employees did to get extra days off with pay. It is what they didn't do.

Smokers and non-smokers

An employee at Piala Inc., a Japan marketing firm based in Tokyo, used the company's suggestion box to point out that his co-workers who smoked worked much less than the non-smokers. That's because their cigarette breaks are longer and more frequent.

The complaining employee itemized the time to show that smokers spend at least 15 minutes on each cigarette break that they take.

They have to leave the 29th floor where they work to go all the way down to the basement. That takes a considerable amount of time to go and return. It is estimated that smokers take a total of 40 minutes each day away from their workstations to go on cigarette breaks.

The employee outlined how smokers took time away from their work while the non-smokers held down the fort. The top executives agreed. Instead of punishing the smokers by docking their pay of having them make up the extra time each day, the company decided a couple of months ago to reward the non-smokers by giving them six extra days a year off with pay. Chief Executive Officer Takao Asuka think this might encourage some of the smokers to quit because of the incentive.

The Huffingting Post reported that 30 of the 120 employees are eligible for the extra six days off, and four employees have quit smoking since the policy was put in place. The employees can take all six vacation days at one time or spread them over the year.

Getting extra vacation time with pay is a big incentive because Japan has the second lowest vacation policy in the world.

Workers are only entitled to at least ten days of paid annual leave each year. This is much lower than in other countries.

Smokers in Japan

The World Health Organization records that nearly one billion people around the world smoke, and about 1 in every 5 adults in Japan is a heavy smoker. Campaigns have been set up in Japan to encourage smokers to quit smoking, but most of them are completely ignored.

The governor of Tokyo would like to put a ban on smoking in public by the time of the 2020 Summer Olympics. However, people think that is a tall order that is unlikely to happen.

Japan has one of the world's largest tobacco markets. Last year, statistics showed that over 20 million people in the country smoked. That's partly because the country does not have mandatory bans on smoking in public places like Europe and the United States have.

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