Tuesday, June 6, 2023

$14,700 fine, pay cut: Japanese man lands in trouble for 4,500 smoke breaks at work

A Japanese man landed in hot water for smoking on the job more than 4,500 times in 14 years. The man was hit with a fine worth around $14,700 for the same.

By India Today World Desk: A 61-year-old Japanese civil servant recently got in trouble for smoking on the job more than 4,500 times in 14 years. He was slapped with a fine worth around 1.44 million yen (S$14,700) for taking smoke breaks during office hours, the Straits Times reported.

The report stated that the authorities in Osaka took strict action against the government employee, along with two colleagues in the prefecture’s finance department. They also imposed a 10 per cent pay cut for six months for repeatedly smoking during work hours despite multiple warnings.

In 2022, the human resources office received a tip-off that the trio were secretly stashing tobacco. The employees were then summoned by their supervisor and warned they may face consequences if they are caught smoking again. However, the three continued smoking and lied about it when interviewed in December 2022.

The report said that out of the three, a 61-year-old director-level employee was deemed to have violated the “duty of devotion” under the Local Public Service Act. The man was asked to return 1.44 million yen of his salary, in addition to his disciplinary wage reduction.

The prefectural government revealed that the man clocked up 355 hours and 19 minutes of smoking on duty.

Osaka has some of the strictest smoking laws in the world and, in 2008, it introduced a total ban on government premises such as offices and public schools. Government employees have also been banned from lighting up while on duty since 2019.

Reacting to the penalty, some argued that having to go off-site for a puff would have meant wasting more time, while others found the fine harsh, saying one can waste time by drinking tea, eating snacks or just chatting, but those are not punishable offences, so neither should be smoking tobacco.

In 2019, a high school teacher in Osaka was similarly disciplined with a temporary pay cut after he was found to have taken around 3,400 illicit smoke breaks. He was also asked to return one million yen of his salary to the education ministry.

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