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Annie Hayes

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Lunch hour faces extinction

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The ‘lunch hour’ is on its way out, with almost 90% of workers no longer taking their allocated midday allowance.

This is according to a survey by Employment Law Advisory Services (ELAS) which is urging bosses to save the lunch hour. Peter Mooney, the firm’s head of consultancy, said: “We are calling for a return to common sense here. Employers must realise that staff staying at their desk may appear eager and committed but if they fail to take a decent break during the day that could have an adverse effect on the whole business.”

The ELAS survey discovered that only 12% of Britain’s office staff bother to take a full hour away from the office for lunch, while just over half took less than 30 minutes.

As well as indigestion, experts believe eating food at their desks increases the opportunity for unhealthy bacteria to thrive.

However, Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said that the idea of the lunch hour seemed “curiously dated”.

Speaking to HRZone.co.uk, he said: “Under the working time regulations, adult workers whose daily working time is more than six hours are entitled to an uninterrupted rest break of only 20 minutes. We want everything bite sized these days – including our lunch breaks. But 20 minutes for lunch, 20 minutes for internet shopping, and leaving 20 minutes early may offer a better work-life balance for many people than a rigid one hour for lunch. We shouldn’t be forcing people to take an hour for lunch any more than we should be preventing them from taking the breaks they need to recharge and remain effective through the working day.”

2 Responses

  1. Flawed
    I feel I really must comment on the sloppy inferences and poor expression in this piece.

    1.”…with almost 90% of workers no longer taking their allocated midday allowance.”

    >>>shouldn’t that read..almost 90% of SURVEYED workers….?

    2. The piece then states that only 12% of Britain’s office staff bother to take a full hour away from the office for lunch…

    >>>shouldn’t that read.. only 12% of SURVEYED STAFF

    and by implication this means that

    “..with almost 90% of workers no longer taking PART OF THEIR allocated midday allowance.”

    WHICH IS FURTHER UNDERMINED BY THE “just over half took less than 30 minutes.” MEANING 50% TOOK MORE 30 MINS PLUS and NOT 90% AS STATED INITIALLY!!!!

  2. 20 minutes
    Whilst the WTR might say workers whose daily time is more than 6 hours are entitled to 20 minutes, 20 minutes might not be enough if you have to walk down to the sandwich shop, wait to be served, walk back and eat your lunch.

    Whilst I take a lunch hour, half of it I’m at my desk as there is nowhere else to eat my lunch. Generally I’ll take my own lunch with me and go for a walk after I’ve eaten just to get fresh air and some exercise.

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Annie Hayes

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