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‘Mickey taking’ smokers having long breaks, say Walsall councillors

By Gurdip Thandi | Walsall | News | Published:

Managers are being told to stub out "mickey taking" long cigarette breaks being taken by some Walsall Council workers.

Bosses said there are staff who spend a lot of time outside having a smoke during shifts, and raised concerns it could see them working less than their colleagues over a period of time.

The authority strengthened its policy on staff smoking, with the aim of protecting employees and visitors to council buildings, at a personnel committee meeting on July 13.

As well as clamping down on long breaks, the policy also prevents anyone from smoking on authority land including car parks, and orders them to consider the council’s “image” and remove all badges and lanyards that identify where they work.

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said: “Some people who smoke quite a lot spend a lot of time outside.

“The new arrangements for occupying the Civic Centre could exacerbate that issue and they end up working a day less than everybody else.”

Labour group leader Aftab Nawaz added: “If managers think someone is taking the mickey and having too much time then we would expect them to crack down on it.”

Balance

Michael Smith, from the council’s HR team, said: “The policy is quite clear in terms of there is no given rights for smoke breaks, and certainly they need to be managed.

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“Managers need to monitor breaks if they are deemed to be excessive. If they are taken, they need to be taken when it suits the business as opposed to the individual. They aren’t paid cigarette breaks and need to be done in their own time.

“The policy gives the right balance, it’s whether it is implemented.”

Councillor Nawaz said some people had been seen smoking on the car park outside the Council House where many members of the public go past.

Councillor Bird added: “If they are smoking on the forecourt, they are breaching the employment rules anyway because they are on council property still. There are people who abuse that, I have to say.”

Mr Smith added the authority is also supporting employees who are trying to kick the habit.

Gurdip Thandi

By Gurdip Thandi
@Gurdo

Local Democracy Reporter covering Walsall.

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