A Japanese company has offered its non-smoking employees an extra six days of paid leave a year after receiving a complaint that they were working more than their colleagues who took regular cigarette breaks.
Tokyo-based marketing firm Piala Inc. introduced the perk in September after seeing resentment rising among its non-smoking employees.
"One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems," Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, told UK daily The Telegraph.
The company then launched an investigation to see if the complaint was true, and found that smokers had to travel down from the 29th floor of the office to the basement level to light up a cigarette and on average lasted 15 minutes.
After the CEO saw the complaint and agreed, the company decided to compensate non-smoking staff with some extra time off, Matsushima said.
So far 30 of the company's 120 employees have taken "extra" days off, and four employees have quit smoking thanks to the new system, Mr. Matsushima, who himself is a non-smoker, said.
"I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion," Takao Asuka, the CEO of Piala Inc, told Kyodo News.
Smoking kills some 130,000 people in Japan annually, with another 15,000 dying of illnesses related to second-hand smoke, according to the World Health Organization.
The Japanese government has been working to prevent second-hand smoking in the country, as it faces pressure to go tobacco-free by the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. However, the country ranks at the bottom worldwide in anti-smoking regulations as its smoking laws and/or bans are still very lax.