Allow five minutes to clear the air

Fag breaks are wrong. I’ve been attempting to think of a way to request an alternative privilege without the smoking. Would “five minutes to stand in the cold and not fulfil my role responsibilities just to watch customers park under pressure in the car park for funsies” be an acceptable allowance? Being a non-smoker, I don’t understand the appeal. But there’s not understanding the appeal and then there’s being completely baffled at society’s integration of the habit.

Smoking is a social thing. I recall an episode of How I Met Your Mother when the entire set of main character explore their smoking history and reasoning for it. Marshall has to choose between successfully quitting or enjoying a secret cigarette with his boss to develop a relationship and eventually get a promotion. It’s the fag break that provides him with the job opportunity. At my workplace, I’m the only one of a relatively small team who doesn’t actually smoke. As most of the regular clientele also enjoy a five minute stand in the cold, I have a disadvantage in customer relations. When did that happen? When did an anti-life, pro-cancer stick become a tool for job promotion?

Whilst excitement and social acceptability is usually related to something that isn’t good for you (smoking, drinking, staying up all night, eating huge amounts and so on), there is the flip side that means achievements in health are actually pretty admirable. Running long distance, for example. Winning a medal in any sport. Climbing a mountain. A friend of a friend recently cycled round the world for charity. That’s pretty cool. My boyfriend and I started 2013 up Ben Nevis. Cue Facebook likes. But if this kind of thing reaches the interest of more people, the impact of these feats is doomed. But does this mean I can ask for a long lunch break to fit in a run, with the same justification as the quick five minute fix of the death stick every couple of hours? Both allowances equally make the respective employee more productive.

It’s an interesting topic to ponder and ponder I do. Of course, the law states nothing about quick breaks. There are only three types of breaks and just one of the three involves a rest break during a shift. That’s a 20 minute uninterrupted break during a 6 or more hour shift, which is traditionally a lunch break. This musing is merely a subjective suggestion. What do you think? Should an employer tailor their staff breaks in accordance with the personal health requirements of the individual, based on their need to smoke or exercise?

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