WorkTime smoke break employee monitoring software

June 17, 2024

6 min read

WorkTime effectively cuts smoke break-related losses

Jay N., a law firm manager, faced a challenge with smoke break regulation. The owner was concerned about the time his employees spent on cigarette breaks. Jay needed to implement effective solutions to reduce the adverse effects of frequent smoke breaks on active time, productivity, and engagement.


Simple calculations showed that each smoker wastes, on average, 3 hours of working time weekly (additionally to regular breaks). Along with lower active time, too often smoke breaks at work implied money paid for idle time. It was only a rough estimate, while Jay needed to see the big picture to address this issue. So, the manager searched for a tool that could help him achieve several goals:
  • Get real numbers of time spent on smoke breaks;
  • Investigate whether the employees taking too many smoke breaks are productive or tend to underperform;
  • Evaluate employee active time during the workday;
  • Ensure that smokers are as productive and engaged as other workers.


Jay was opposed to “traditional” tracking features like screenshots or keystrokes monitoring. What’s more, screen content recording made no sense, as the manager required valuable and accurate data. That’s why his firm implemented WorkTime to solve the smoke break issue, as it provided non-invasive, secure, and comprehensive reports in numbers and statistics.


After a month of use, a manager had valuable statistics that helped him make reasonable decisions. WorkTime reports confirmed that employees who had frequent smoke breaks were less engaged. Furthermore, chain smokers’ active time progress was significantly lower compared to the rest of the team. Employee monitoring assisted in a variety of management tasks:
  1. Setting goals for active time. The authority adjusted the active time goal for employees. Also, WorkTime helps observe the progress of each employee, including non-smokers and those who tend to take frequent smoke breaks.
  2. WorkTime monitors employees' active time progress

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  3. Assessing the effect of smoke breaks on productivity. Joe compared non-smokers’ and smokers’ productivity. The reports revealed that smoking significantly affects productivity, reducing it almost by half.
  4. WorkTime productivity summary report
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  5. Evaluating the distraction score. Regular smoke breaks are linked to high distraction scores, harming overall productivity.
  6. WorkTime employee distraction score progress
    WorkTime short breaks reports

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    Applying WorkTime for self-monitoring of their smoke break time. Employees get access to their metrics to control the time spent on smoking breaks and not to exceed the overall break duration limit.


WorkTime implementation considerably improved the overall employees’ performance:
  • Higher productivity: from 60% to 85%;
  • Lower distraction score: from 65 to 20;
  • Increased active time: from 55% to 89%;
  • Higher engagement.
Moreover, WorkTime helped Joe build an effective management solution for smoke break regulation. The reports' findings were valuable for setting the company’s employee smoke break policy and including it in employee handbooks.

Bonus info

Smoke breaks cost millions of dollars

The studies showed that smoke breaks can consume three weeks of paid time annually. For business owners, this time is equivalent to millions of dollars paid for unproductive time.
According to the investigation on smoking-related costs in Taiwan, the productivity losses related to smoke breaks reached $733 million.

Hidden cost of smoke breaks at work

1. At work but not productive

Frequent smoke breaks lead to a loss of focus during the work day.
If the employees are at work, it does not mean they are productive. Smokers are more distracted and less engaged in the work process. As a result, they have lower productivity than their non-smoking colleagues.

2. Absenteeism

Smoking in the workplace is also linked to absenteeism. According to statistics, smokers take sick leave more often.
Smokers have a higher rate of absenteeism, resulting in extra costs for employers paid for unscheduled absences.

3. High distraction score

Regular employee smoke breaks increase the distraction score, which harms performance. It’s harder for distracted employees to regain focus and stay productive. Moreover, distraction results in delayed delivery of work results.

How to manage smoke breaks at work?

Smoking in the workplace requires effective management to prevent possible negative effects on employee performance. Companies worldwide implement different strategies. For instance, some owners set strict break policies, while others try various approaches to find a compromise. What are possible ways to manage smoke breaks at work?
  1. Implement a smoke-break policy. It’s better to make them inclusive to promote equality. The best way to solve this issue is to set an allowed duration for all work breaks, whether a cigarette break, a lunch break, or others.
  2. Engage employees to reduce the number of smoke breaks during the day. For example, one company in Japan found the solution to a smoking dilemma. The employer provided extra paid days off for non-smokers because they do not take cigarette breaks during the day.
  3. Monitor active time. Active time and productivity monitoring can help reveal the problem with employee performance on time and address this issue.
Try WorkTime right now to regulate smoke break issues effectively.

Smoking breaks and the law: most discussed questions answered

How many smoke breaks are allowed at work?

There is no standard regulation for smoke breaks at work. It depends on the country, the company’s policies, daily work hours, and other factors. Some employees use their lunch breaks for smoking, and some are allowed to take additional smoking breaks.

Are smoke breaks required by law?

According to federal law for breaks at work, employees are entitled to have one lunch meal (30 minutes) and an additional 10-minute rest break when they work from 9 to 5. If they work more than 8 hours, then workers have additional breaks. Still, there is no specific law for smoke breaks.

What is the law for smoke breaks at work?

Are smokers entitled to cigarette breaks? The employees have the right to take breaks from 5 to 20 minutes during the day. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not include a specific smoking breaks law. Still, workers decide how to spend their rest time. So, they can use this time for smoke breaks.

How many smoke breaks can an employee take?

There are no specific smoking break laws regulating the duration and quantity of smoke breaks at work. According to FLSA, employees have at least 2 breaks during a day: a meal break for 30 minutes and a rest break for 10 minutes. Thus, a worker can use one of the breaks for smoking. But if the total break time exceeds the authorized break duration, then the extra time won’t be paid.

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