"Smoke" Breaks.

Working in a fast food place they give everyone a half hour and a 15 minute break for an eight hour shift. Although some people I work with think because they smoke this policy does not apply to them and as soon as they have a craving for a smoke it is there right to say “going out for a smoke cover for me” and therefore because I do not smoke I should pick up there slack.

I’m okay with it if they want to take more breaks for a shorter length of time, but last night we had three people phone in sick and I offered to stay later… few minutes later both my manager and a crew member took 20 minutes for a smoke, leaving me to be on till and hand out food in drive through.

So for all of you who have come in and are unsatisfied with your meal and service, and ask for a manager, just go behind the restaurant you’ll find them there, along with some other employees.

Those people tick me off, too, and I’m a smoker! I can smoke a cigarette in less than three minutes and be back at what I’m supposed to be doing before anyone even knows I’m gone. I don’t know what takes other smokers so long.

Well, actually, I do.

The fact is, most of these people aren’t taking a break to smoke. They’re smoking to take a break. I’ve been in the restaurant business for 20 years, and this situation hasn’t changed. You know what I’ve heard people (usually bartenders, for some reason) say many times? “I didn’t smoke until I took this job. I had to start smoking because it’s the only way I can get a break!”

I look at it like this: something is dreadfully wrong if your employer is ignoring the labor laws about required breaks, but is allowing nicotine addiction to be a valid excuse for taking multiple breaks.

Even my last boss did the “smoke for a break” thing. And I swear she would take 15 minutes to smoke a cigarette. Many times a day. But the way I figure, I’m not getting paid to smoke. So I make sure that I only take a smoke break when there are no orders to cook, and I finish the cigarette as fast as I possibly can.

Don’t roll over for this kind of treatment. Tell the manager that you expect the same amount of break time that everyone else gets. Tell him sternly but professionally, matter-of-factly and without whining. Stand up for yourself. If he fires you, call a lawyer.

Believe me, you don’t want to start your life out this way. The longer you wait, the harder it is to summon the back-bone to resist being a doormat later in life. It’s a pattern of habit and a deep rut.

Be firm, but don’t be mean. Just say it, but don’t explode. Document whatever you need to: dates and times, what was said, etc. Stand by your principles.

Trust me, in the end you’ll be glad you did. It is better for the psyche to find another job and have your honor and self-esteem than it is to have a job and feel like you are worthless.

Oh, and when you tell him calmy, look him in the eye. You want him to know you mean it.

I used to work in a combination convenience/liquor/deli in Las Vegas. There were a couple of my cow-orkers who used to really abuse their smoking privileges. Both the manager and assistant manager smoked too, and I finally had to start documenting all the smoke breaks that the second shifters were taking. The managers finally had to break it to all the smokers that it just wasn’t fair to expect one person to cover the deli on her shift AND cover the main register for 4 hours of that same shift. I usually worked the deli, and managed to get most of my work done even with a smoker running the cash register. I was expected to be backup cashier, and I didn’t mind it for bathroom breaks or REASONABLE smoke breaks. I also didn’t mind running my register when we had oodles of customers all trying to check out at once, assuming that I wasn’t going to burn the food I had going. But when I had the managers try the smokers on the deli, all of a sudden the salads (tuna, chicken, potato, macaroni, etc) didn’t get made, the sandwiches didn’t get made, all sorts of things didn’t get done in the deli. Finally had to fire a couple of the worst smokers.

When my husband first joined the Air Force, smokers were allowed to take breaks while the nonsmokers were expected to police the area. My husband started smoking then, and it took him 25 years to quit.

You know? It really pisses me off that companies can’t provide their workers with equal time for whatever addictions they may have. All these rules about not shooting up smack in the bathroom, no huffing crack in the broom closet, no sniffing glue in front of the customers. It’s always, “no, no, no.” I’m sick of this. I TELL YOU, IT’S JUST PLAIN UNFAIR!!!

A restaurant my son worked had made the smokers clock out for their smoke breaks. He loved it (he was a non smoker)

I dislike it when co-workers abuse any system, although getting a few “extra” breaks to entertain their habit usually doesn’t bother me, until it becomes too frequent. This happened a lot at a car dealership I worked at ten years ago. Co-workers would take several smoke breaks during the day, and leave us non-smokers still working.

As a protest, I started to take “smoke breaks” also, right after one of my co-workers did, and for the same amount of time. My manager noticed this one day (when my break coincided with his) and got really upset over the fact that I don’t smoke (I would usually sit and relax). We had quite a long discussion concerning the “extra” breaks, and how to compensate for non-smokers. Afterward, everyone was allowed two (and only two) five minute breaks, off the clock, per day. Seemed like a fair solution.

I used to be a shift supervisor at a bagel store, and I remember one girl in particular who used to try to take smoke breaks. Considering the fact that she was under 18 and it wasn’t legal for her to smoke anyway, I told her that she couldn’t. I informed her of the break policy and told her she had to follow the rules. Plus, she was a really sucky worker (and at one time was suspected of stealing out of the register), so it made me even less likely to give her extra break time.

Of course, that all went out the door when my manager worked with her, because they would smoke together.

As a smoker, it’s the other side of the coin that pisses me off. The non-smokers can waste all the time they want since they don’t have to leave the work area to do it. We smokers have to leave the building, so it’s obvious when we leave.

The non-smokers think nothing of gossiping and chatting half the day (not to mention internet surfing on company time). But let a smoker take one minute too long and they are the first to complain.

Man, this pisses me off too. They’d usually take their 15 minute breaks in addition to 2 or 3 breaks that may last 15-30 minutes if they got to talking with someone interesting.

Are you suggesting that non-smokers are more likely to goof off than smokers? Sounds like a pile of bullshit to me.

You can have your opinion, but I guarantee that in any office setting more time is wasted gossipping and internet surfing than is wasted smoking. In a non-office setting, you may be correct.

The fact is, most of these people aren’t taking a break to smoke. They’re smoking to take a break.


I don’t smoke so I never could take a smoke break. Back when I worked fast food I took a lot of pee breaks. My feet and back would be killing me after a couple of hours on that hard floor and peeing was the only way I could sit down for a couple of minutes.

Fast food joints are notorious for not wanting you to sit down, ever. It doesn’t matter that you have nothing to do and there are no customers. They’re paying you a whole $5.15 an hour and dammit you’d better earn it!

It’s entirely possible that you are correct about the relative amounts of time being wasted in offices. I wouldn’t know, never having worked in one. However, two points come to mind:

  1. Unless there is a correlation between non-smoking and internet surfing or whatever, it is still true that smokers waste more time than non-smokers if they take smoke breaks.

  2. The OP is explicitly talking about a non-office setting where there may be talking, but internet surfing seems unlikely.

Or do you think it fair that someone be expected to cover for coworkers on top of regular duties, merely because said someone was intelligent enough at age 15 not to fall for the ‘smoking makes you cool’ line? Just because we non-smokers can expect to have several more years time in total available to us doesn’t mean you’re entitled to use it instead of us.

Correct me if I’m wrong (as if!) but I believe the OP is directed at the incorrectness of ehtical workers having to watch smokers take an unfair number of breaks during the day. Comparing truant workplace smokers to unethical corporate slackers will always yield equivalency.

Make that ethical …

OK. I guess I wasn’t entirely on-topic…guess I need a smoke to clear my head. :wink:

This happens in other businesses as well. I have a friend who is an engineer who constantly lements that we should take up smoking so that we can get more brakes.

Parkerz, this sucks, but it will happen to you for as long as you work, in every industry. The smokers always get their breaks, and usually a few more thrown in as well. At the office I’m in now, the smokers take about 6 breaks a day plus their lunch half-hour; everyone else takes one half-hour for lunch and that’s it. This is extremely common in every field I’ve worked in. I absolutely hate it, but it’s a fact of life everywhere. And if management smokes, you will be completely SOL if you try to do anything about it.

I don’t know how this will ever be evened-up, but I love the suggestion of having smokers clock out for their smoke breaks, even if it doesn’t fix the problem of having non-smokers covering for them every time a nic fit strikes. One other solution is to drink gallons of water everyday so you’re peeing as much as they’re smoking. This used to be the only way I got a break when I was a temp (of course, the smoking temps always got breaks.)