Cigarette break - does it count as working time?

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During the interview, it is forbidden to ask questions about the candidate's private life, political views or religion. There should also be no question whether the candidate is a smoker or not. However, this is related to another important issue - is the employee entitled to a cigarette break? Check the answer in the article!

The Labor Code and a cigarette break

The Labor Code does not contain regulations that explicitly allow or forbid smoking breaks. The regulations contained in the code mention a number of other breaks. Pursuant to Art. 134 of the Code, an employee who is employed for a minimum of 6 hours is entitled to a minimum of 15 minutes, and this time is included in the working time. The Code does not clearly indicate when an employee should take a break - this should be regulated by internal regulations.

Additional breaks are planned for employees whose main work tool is a computer. In the ordinance of the Minister of Labor and Social Policy of 1 December 1998 on occupational health and safety at workstations equipped with screen monitors, we can find information that for each hour worked at the monitor, the employee is entitled to a 5-minute break. There are no regulations that prohibited it from being used as a cigarette break. It should be remembered that they cannot be combined - if the break is not used by the employee, it is forfeited. They are also included in the working hours of employees.

Employee taking the break

The aforementioned breaks are obligatory for all employees, but this does not mean that the employer cannot introduce additional breaks. Pursuant to Article 144 para. 1 of the Labor Code, the employer may introduce one additional break, which will not be included in the working time. This break can be treated as a break for a cigarette, lunch or private matters.

Its establishment must be included in the work regulations, employment contract or collective agreement.

The regulations do not explicitly provide for a cigarette break, but the employee is entitled to free time, the use of which depends solely on the employee. If he is a smoker, he can use it to light a cigarette.