Home/ News / World/  Smoking during office hours lands Japanese govt employee in trouble; fined in lakhs, pay cut

Terms like Chai break, Sutta break are part and parcel of any office environment. It was surely something many office goers missed during the Covid lockdown due to work from home. Though smoking kills but in THIS country it can also harm your salary.

In Japan, a 61-year-old civil servant was fined 1.44 million yen which is approximately 8. lakh for smoking during office hours. A report by The Mainichi has stated that the employee smoked for a total of 4,512 times during working hours over a period of 14 and half years.

The prefectural government in Osaka took action against three employees who belonged to the finance department. They were enforced a 10 percent pay cut for six months after repeatedly being warned for smoking during working hours. Of the three, the 61 year old employee smoked for 355 hours and 19 minutes in total while on duty. Holding a position at director level, he was considered to have violated the 'duty of devotion' under the Local Public Service Act and was hence asked to return 1.44 million yen from his salary along with 10 percent cut.

This penalty imposed on the employees came after repeated warning. Earlier in September 2022, the human resources division was tipped about their smoking habits. The supervisor had warned the three employees but they still continued. In the same year in December, the three employees lied to the supervisor of not smoking after he learnt that they had been repeatedly doing it since then.

In 2019, the government employees have been banned from lighting up while on duty, a report by Strait Times has stated. In 2008, Osaka too had imposed strict restrictions and had introduced total ban on smoking in government premises like offices and public schools.

This is not the first time such a harsh punishment was imposed. Earlier in 2019, Osaka high school teacher took 3400 smoke breaks. He was also disciplined with a temporary pay cut and was asked to return 1 million yen of his salary to the education ministry.

The country is is known for its rigid work structure, where long hours at the office symbolized a strong work ethic. In 2021, government office employees were punished for leaving their workplace two minutes before the scheduled exit time and were penalized with pay cut.

Meanwhile, Japanese government has been promoting measures to reverse the low birth rate and population crisis, including increasing child support and encouraging more men to take paternity leave. However, despite the goal of raising the percentage of male workers taking paternity leave, many new fathers are sceptical. However, many Japanese men are afraid to take paternity leave due to potential repercussions from their employers. Despite the fact that men are entitled to four weeks of flexible paternity leave at up to 80 percent of their salary, they fear negative effects on their promotion prospects or being reassigned to a different position with fewer responsibilities.

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Updated: 31 Mar 2023, 05:06 PM IST
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