It's common for government departments to serve as an example for businesses of what not to do. Now, the department of health has made an ironic move in supposedly spending up to R2.4 million on upgrading a smoking room for its employees.
Provincial Democratic Alliance spokesperson Mark Steele says the DA submitted a question to health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo on why the department had spent up to R2.4 million upgrading a smoking room at its Natalia head office building in Pietermaritzburg.
And Steele didn't suck this information out of thin air – the information was contained in an infrastructure projects report submitted to health portfolio committee members on 18 April, says eNCA
But it's not just the fact that so much was spent on upgrading the smoking room.
There are concerns that the Department of Health has a smoking room in the first place.
But having a smoking room's a good move if you allow smoking in your business, because smoking isn't allowed in public places.
And with proposed regulations to the Tobacco Products Control Act (TPCA)
will impose even more restrictions for smoking in public places and designated smoking areas like smoking rooms, adds Kerusha Narothan on FSP Business
Remember that your smoking room must meet the Tobacco Products Control Act's requirements for reasonable distance…
If you allow smoking in your workplace, remember that the designated smoking area must be at least 5m away from non-smoking employees or you'll face a R50,000 penalty for non-compliance.
This includes covered walkways or parking areas, in your workplace – and remember that smoking isn't allowed in partially enclosed areas like covered patios, verandas or balconies either.
Two ways to cut down on the amount of time your employees spend on smoke breaks!
Then, once you've ensure your smoking room meets the Tobacco Products Control Act's requirements, you need to cut down on a loss of productivity from employees taking too many smoke breaks.
To do so, you can insist that your smoking employees work in the time taken for smoke breaks after hours, without additional remuneration.
Another option is to total up the smoke breaks time and deduct it from your employees' wages at the end of the month if you've got a written smoking policy in place, says The Health and Safety Training Manual
Your smoking policy should include a smoking time requirement that's also written into your employees' employment contracts.
Then, to make sure it's fair and accurate, you also need to institute a fool proof method of monitoring your employees' smoking time off work, by getting them to swipe an access card to enter and exit the designated smoking area or getting them to clock out and in again from their office.