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I working at a company with 50-60 employees, none of whom smoke apart from myself. I understand going out to smoke is a privilege, not a right, and the company is under no obligation to support my terrible habit.

The office is situated in the middle of a small town, there is a small park that's roughly a 5-minute walk away. HR have asked me to stop smoking in the work's car park (which is fair enough) and have requested that I walk the 10-minute round trip to the park to smoke.

The company's car park is attached to a road which the company does not own or have any control over. Would it be unreasonable to smoke whilst standing on this road or near it, as walking the 10 minutes to the park seems counter productive for both myself and the company, as I would be wasting 20-30 minutes per day walking.

Can an employer have any control over where I can smoke (in public) when I'm technically doing it on "their time", as it were?

I'm based in the UK, if that makes a difference.

closed as off-topic by Dukeling, gnat, Chris E, mcknz, Mister Positive Sep 6 '17 at 14:24

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – gnat, mcknz
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  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because asking whether it's acceptable to smoke on a sidewalk doesn't seem like a workplace question. – Dukeling Sep 6 '17 at 12:42
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    As a general rule, if HR ask you to do something, you should do it. – Kaz Sep 6 '17 at 12:44
  • Updated question to clarify what im asking – scriptss Sep 6 '17 at 12:45
  • Can they compel you to do it? No. Should you do it anyway? Yes. – Kaz Sep 6 '17 at 12:45
  • It seems as though they're putting this time obstacle in your path as a passive encouragement to "help" you to quit smoking. – Snow Sep 6 '17 at 12:46
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As you already stated, it is ok for the company to control its premises eg. car-park, and whether they allow you "paid breaks". What you do in your break and outside of their premises should be of no concern to them, as long as it does not harm their reputation or your ability to continue working as soon as break is over.

One could discuss if smoking people on a public sidewalk in front of a particular company will promote a bad reputation, but if you a are the only one I think that point is moot.

On the other hand, don´t bite the hand that feeds you. If they are willing to support your bad habits on their terms, maybe it is best to comply or you might find yourself stripped of those cigarette-break privileges altogether?

  • That seems like a logical answer, In regards to "biting the hand that feeds you", I don't drink tea or coffee but everyone else in my team does, This results in them making 5-6 drinks a day which in my opinion makes it okay for me to smoke and I can't see them revoking smoking privileges without revoking tea and coffee privileges as well – scriptss Sep 6 '17 at 13:01
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    Yes, but sometimes the big boss just does not like the picture of some lonely smoker when he gets to his office late in his brand new Porsche. And whoops, decisions are made with no just an reasonable explanation. Also, the coffe-drinkers have the power of the crowd behind them. You are without any lobby. Decide at your own risk :) – Daniel Sep 6 '17 at 13:15
  • That is a valid point and I hadn't considered it, Thanks for the answer – scriptss Sep 6 '17 at 13:23
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    that may be a bad comparison - if I want a cup of coffee I walk to the machine, pour it, and come back to work - 2mn at most. I've rarely seen anyone take less than a 10mn smoke break - generally more like 15mn – NKCampbell Sep 6 '17 at 13:54

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