Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Business

Career Q&A: Workers wonder about boss' smoke breaks

RECOMMENDED READING


Q: My supervisor recently got very angry when a few employees lined up at the time clock shortly before quitting time. She said we must keep working every minute until the end of our shift. However, her concern for productivity seems hypocritical, as she regularly wastes time taking smoke breaks.

Twice a day, our supervisor and department manager go outside and spend 15 minutes smoking and chatting. One of our co-workers occasionally joins them, and they never complain about his missing work. How can we protest this unfair company policy?

A: Smoke breaks have been a point of contention for years. Because non-smoking employees understandably resent others having free time to indulge a bad habit, many companies have eliminated this special privilege. In terms of policy change, therefore, the trend is in your favor.

At the moment, your group actually appears more upset about management than about smoking. But since complaining about your bosses could be unproductive and risky, focusing on the break policy is a smarter move. To increase your leverage, get some irritated non-smokers from other departments to join the cause.

Next, your group must decide where to take this complaint. Since personnel policies typically originate in human resources, the HR manager would seem to be the logical choice. Instead of bringing up time clock issues or supervisory unfairness, explain how smoke breaks reduce productivity and are resented by non-smokers.

Since your supervisor and her boss may not appreciate this attempt to revoke their smoking privileges, ask the HR manager to keep identities confidential. And don't expect immediate results. Policy changes seldom happen overnight, but at least you will have started the conversation.

Company denies request to relocate

Q: Several months ago, I accepted a job that requires weekly travel. I was expected to cover the central United States from our headquarters in Texas, which worked out well. Recently, however, my territory was expanded to include half the country, so I now have three-hour flights to the East Coast.

To reduce my travel time, I asked the company to pay for my relocation to North Carolina, where my family is from. My manager says human resources denied this request. I suspect that he told them I wanted to move for family reasons. Should I clarify this with HR, or just leave it alone?

A: The glaring omission in your story is any description of how this move would benefit your company. On the face of it, covering "half the country" from North Carolina would seem to be no more convenient than doing so from Texas, so any savings of money or time are not immediately apparent. If HR reached the same conclusion, then your motivation may have indeed appeared to be personal.

If you wish to find out why your request was denied, by all means ask the HR manager. But before initiating that conversation, prepare a business case showing how the move to North Carolina will either reduce travel costs or increase your productivity. If this proves to be difficult, however, then you should definitely drop the subject.

Comments
Across country, small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

Across country, small retailers aim for emotional ties big chains may lack

Associated PressSome smaller retailers will tug at shoppers’ heartstrings during the holidays, trying to create an emotional experience or connection that a big national chain might not provide.Store owners are going well beyond the usual holiday dec...
Published: 11/22/17
Six years and counting: Allegiant Air reaches agreement with flight attendants

Six years and counting: Allegiant Air reaches agreement with flight attendants

ST. PETERSBURG — After six years of negotiations, Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air and its flight attendants union reached a tentative contract to improve worker pay and benefits and solidify airline policies."We feel like it’s an agreement that is cert...
Published: 11/22/17
Workers at luxury St. Pete condo tower say they are owed thousands

Workers at luxury St. Pete condo tower say they are owed thousands

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly three dozen workers at ONE St. Petersburg, a luxury condo tower under construction in the heart of downtown, haven’t been paid in weeks and are owed thousands of dollars.With the holidays nearing, some of the men say they are ...
Published: 11/22/17
Some cities faced with all-or-nothing medical marijuana rules are playing it safe

Some cities faced with all-or-nothing medical marijuana rules are playing it safe

When it comes to weighing the options for regulating medical marijuana through the law passed this year, Dunedin city commissioners declared local governments face a "conundrum" and "a false dilemma."They said they would welcome a dispensary in the c...
Published: 11/22/17
More guns being detected at Tampa Bay area airports — and everywhere else

More guns being detected at Tampa Bay area airports — and everywhere else

TAMPA — Here’s some travel math for this traditionally heavy day for long trips: More people carrying guns plus more people flying equals more guns going to the airport.The numbers bear this out. The federal Transportation Security Administration has...
Published: 11/22/17
A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

LAND O’LAKES — Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco sat together several times in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving break, trading contract proposals amid (mostly) amicable conversation.They c...
Published: 11/22/17

Florida Supreme Court suspends two Hillsborough lawyers

Times Staff WriterTwo Hillsborough County lawyers have been suspended from practice because of professional misconduct.The Florida Supreme Court ordered a 91-day suspension for Richard Luther Bradford of Brandon after he was found in contempt for fai...
Published: 11/22/17
Get all the Black Friday sales circulars today. Here’s how

Get all the Black Friday sales circulars today. Here’s how

The Tampa Bay Times Thanksgiving Early Bird edition, with all of the Black Friday ads and sales circulars, is available today.That’s right. You don’t have to wait until Thursday to check out the savings. Weighing nearly five pounds, the Early Bird Ed...
Published: 11/22/17
U.S. business leaders say Cuba is still open, at least to them, despite Trump’s new rules

U.S. business leaders say Cuba is still open, at least to them, despite Trump’s new rules

WASHINGTON — When the Trump administration announced new Cuba regulations, it sparked a new round of hand-wringing in Washington over a return to a posture not seen since the Cold War. But now, the American business community is quietly spreading the...
Published: 11/22/17
Here’s when stores will open on Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Here’s when stores will open on Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Although the crowds might still be unruly and the lines long, Black Friday as "The Day" is slowly waning. Steve Kirn, a University of Florida professor and executive director for the David F. Miller Center for Retailing Education & Research, said the...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17