Japanese Employee Fined $11,000+ For Taking Smoke Breaks 4,512 Times In 14 Years.
In Osaka, Japan, a civil servant has been penalized for smoking during work hours despite strict smoking laws in place.
According to a report by The Straits Times, the 61-year-old director-level employee was fined around $11,000 for smoking on the job more than 4,500 times in 14 years.
In addition to the fine, he was asked to return 1.44 million yen of his salary, and a 10% pay cut was imposed for six months. Two of his colleagues in the prefecture’s finance department were also penalized for repeatedly smoking during work hours.
The incident came to light when an anonymous tip was received by the human resource office in September 2022, alleging that the trio was secretly stashing tobacco. Despite multiple warnings, the three continued to smoke during work hours and lied about it when interviewed in December 2022.
Osaka has some of the strictest smoking laws in the world, with a total ban on smoking cigarettes in government premises, including offices and public spaces. Government employees were banned from smoking during work hours in 2019.
The man was deemed to have violated the “duty of devotion” under the Local Public Service Act. The prefectural government revealed that the man clocked up 355 hours and 19 minutes of smoking on duty.
The penalty has received mixed reactions, with some arguing that having to go off-site for a smoke break would have meant wasting more time, while others found the fine harsh, stating that wasting time by drinking tea, eating snacks, or chatting is not a punishable offense.
This incident is not the first of its kind in Osaka. In 2019, a high school teacher was asked to pay back one million yen of his salary to the education ministry for taking around 3,400 illicit smoke breaks during work hours.
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