London, Sept 28 (ANI): In a move to get workers in Britain to do equal amount of work, the council has decided to force smoking staff to clock off whenever they go for a smoke.
The move, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, will see smokers doing extra work to make up for the lost time and also make sure that they are pulling their weight as much as the non-smokers.
It will affect all 280 members of staff, from managers to office workers, and smokers would be expected to make up any lost hours.
However, the proposed rule has attracted criticism from pro-smoking lobby groups who have branded it the "tyranny of the majority".
William Nunn, Conservative leader of Breckland Council, denied the policy was being introduced to make money.
"It came about because the staff themselves felt there was an issue of fairness going on where some people went out for a smoke and some didn't," the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.
"We want to make sure that there is parity among all of the staff. This will apply to everybody in the whole authority and will ensure there is some form of consistency.
"This is actually a case where we are taking a very pragmatic view and enhancing the lives of our staff, they themselves came forward and said they'd like a policy.
"It's absolutely nothing to do with money because they'll make up the hours lost in their own time," he stated.
The new policy will affect council staff at offices in Swaffham, Dereham, Thetford, Attleborough and Watton, all Norfolk.
Staff at the main offices in Dereham and Thetford would be forced to use flexi-time cards to clock off and on for a smoke.
The policy is due to be discussed by the council's general purposes committee on September 29, which will decide when the plans will be implemented.
If they approve the new rule, which is currently "recommended" for approval, it will come into force on November 1.
A council spokesman explained the policy, believed to be the first of its kind in Britain, was developed following a poll of staff.
"The consultation poll made us aware that a large number of our staff believed a clocking off and on system would be fairer," he said. (ANI)