Health News

Japanese Company Gives Non-Smokers Six Extra Days Off

Non-smokers at the Japanese marketing company Pilia Inc. have an additional perk coming to them: six extra vacation days.

As compensation for not taking 15-minute smoking breaks, Pilia has decided to award the vacation leaves to non-smokers, Business Insider reports. The move is a big step in Japan, a country infamous for its extreme work-life imbalance.

Smokers are generally given 15-minute breaks throughout the year. But the marketing firm enacted the new policy in September, after CEO Takao Asuka received some complaints from non-smoking employees that smokers should not be rewarded for their bad habits by giving them 15 minutes off work. Japan has one of the world’s highest smoking rates at 22%.

Asuka said that the policy should also encourage people to quit smoking. He told the Japan Times,

I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion.

Around 35% of Pilia employees smoke.

A Japanese executive choosing to give employees an additional week off work marks a major leap in the country’s working conditions. Compared to many countries in the developed world, Japanese employees log numerous hours, taking very little personal time off. It’s normal for workers to stay for 12 to 14 hours at their jobs daily.

The effects have been deadly. Since the 1970s, Japan has seen a growth in the trend called karoshi, or “death by overwork,” wherein people suffer heart attacks or kill themselves due to the extra-long work hours. A report in 2016 that looked into the rise of karoshi numbers found that over 20% of 10,000 Japanese workers surveyed said that they clocked in at least 80 hours of overtime a month.

Asuka’s policy is especially surprising given Japan’s lax attitude towards smoking. The Japanese government even has a stake in Japan Tobacco, a cigarette manufacturer, the New York Times reports.

Comparatively, Americans aren’t smoking as much as they used to, according to statistics. In 2015, only 15% of adults reportedly smoked.

Click to comment
To Top

Hi - We Would Love To Keep In Touch

If you liked this article then please consider joing our mailing list to receive the latest news, updates and opportunities from our team.

We don't want an impostor using your email address so please look for an email from us and click the link to confirm your email address.