If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant or bar, you’ll know that it gets SO hectic during service that often the only time you can get a chance to even check your phone is if you ask to go out for a cigarette.
It’s kind of an unspoken rule that people who smoke can rack up more time off work by running out every couple of hours for a smoke. But should they be allowed to do so?
Does my employer have to give me time off work for smoking breaks?
No. Employees are only entitled to time off work for breaks as set down in Section 12 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. Your employer is not obliged to provide smoking breaks for employees.
This means that all those cigarette breaks should only be taken as part of your entitled work break…
The general rule on breaks is that you are entitled to a break of 15 minutes after a 4 ½ hour work period. If you work more than 6 hours you are entitled to a break of 30 minutes, which can include the first 15-minute break. There is no entitlement to be paid during these breaks and they are not considered part of working time.
Basically, if your boss doesn’t mind, you can technically run outside for a smoke anytime you ask… But otherwise, you’ll have to make do with your legal entitlements of one 15 minute break after four or so hours work, and another 15 minute break later on.