Don’t forget to clock out

Workers at a district council in eastern England must now clock off and back on if they take a cigarette break.

Staff at Breckland Council in Norfolk will no longer be paid for time spent smoking after proposals agreed earlier this year came into force.

Council leader William Nunn said the policy formalised an agreement made in consultation with staff.

“Our flexible working system allows smokers to take breaks without affecting the amount of time spent working and this brings fairness for all,” William Nunn told Reuters news agency.

Breckland Council said staff have viewed the new smoking breaks policy positively, although there has been noone employed to make certain it was enforced.

Smokers’ lobby group Forest said everyone was entitled to a break during work and described the plan as tyrannical.

“Many smokers believe having the occasional cigarette allows them to refocus,” said a Forest spokesman.

Staff work to a flexitime system which means they take breaks at different times and if they go out to buy a sandwich they clock in and out by swiping their cards.

The new smoking policy is permanent but will be reviewed in six months, the council said.