Want to grab some lunch?

Following on from my radio debut on Radio Nottingham, I thought it would be worth giving you a heads up on lunch breaks; The Law, The Practice and The Advice!

I was asked – do I take a lunch break? The answer is not always. My employer encourages breaks but my age-old excuse is that I am too busy, I need that time to get things done, I’ll just eat at my desk, if at all.

What about you? What about your employees? Do you lead by example and take a break? Do you encourage your employees to do the same? What are the benefits? What are their rights?

The law:

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 an employee is entitled to a rest break of 20 minutes if their working day is 6 hours or more ideally in the middle of the day rather than using it to come in slightly later or leave earlier.

Employers do not have to pay their employees for this break and it can be for longer than 20 minutes and the employer can stipulate when the break should be taken.

The practice:

Research suggests that less than a third of UK workers take an hour lunch break and half said they didn’t have time to take a break at all!

Lunch breaks of old tended to be long and leisurely, maybe in a pub or an on-site restaurant. You might walk to the local shops or meet a friend. Is this long, leisurely lunch a thing of the past and why?

Are employees getting lazy, preferring to stay put and eat at our desks? Is the pull of takeaway food delivered to your desk too great? One study showed that 52% of workers eat at their desk.

Is our working environment one that doesn’t provide for time away from your desk? No on-site restaurant or break out area?

Is it that employees feel that they have too much work to do and not enough time to do it in?

Are employers unfavourable of lunch breaks or do employees presume this?

The advice:

Time away from a desk or work station allows for your employee’s brain to rest, their eyes to rest and for their physical and mental wellbeing to improve.

Therefore, it is important to encourage employees to ship out at lunch not only because it is their right but if they come back rested and refreshed it will improve employee engagement and morale which in turn improves productivity! It’s a win, win!

The flip side is that not taking breaks can increase the likelihood of mistakes being made and increased poor health that will increase absence and therefore creating an increased cost to the business and a reduction in productivity/customer service.

The same applies for leaders in business, the CEO, the MD, Senior and Middle Management, take the opportunity to have a break and see the difference it can make to your day.


Need advice on a HR or Employment law issue? Email us at hello@yourhrlawyer.co.uk or call us on 0115 870 0150.


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