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Guest Blog: Are you taking a lunch break?

11.11.2016

Is your business or organisation suffering with individuals who complain of feeling stressed, unmanageable workloads, not enough time in the day?  Comical as this may sound, ask them if they are taking a break from their work and work space?

An ACAS survey found that only one third of individuals take a lunch break away from their work.  Lunch breaks have become a habit of grabbing a sandwich and a drink and eating it at the desk whilst working because they do have a heavy workload and tight deadlines to meet, causing stress.  Yet one of the most beneficial ways of dealing with manging a heavy workload without becoming stressed is to take regular breaks away from the job itself.  That can be a short 20 minutes, the limit imposed by the European Directive for Working Tim Regulations or an hour.  It’s more about how that time is spent.  A brisk walk outside, listening to music, reading a book, meditating or just watching nature in a park can be beneficial.  It is scientifically proven that a simple walk in the park can have cognitive benefits. 

What staff eat at work is also really important.  Although there is no statutory requirement on employers to ensure their employees have a healthy balanced meal, there are initiatives an employer can implement to encourage this.  If there is a canteen available that’s a good place to offer a balanced, healthy meal to employees.  In smaller businesses where there isn’t a canteen there are nutrionists and experts who can come in at lunch time to talk to staff about the importance of eating well and how easy and cheap it can be rather than always grabbing a sandwich is not always the most healthiest option.  Eating the right food helps with how the brain functions and avoid the sluggish afternoon when performance and concentration dips.

As a quick reference point, listed below are the specific rest breaks that are a minimum statutory amount that employers in the UK have to abide by. 

Employees over 18

  • 20 minute break where 6 or more hours have been worked;
  • 11 hours break between working days;
  • 24 hours break where working 7 days;

Employees under 18

  • 30 minute break where they work 4.5 hours or more;
  • 12 hours rest between working days;
  • 48 hours break where working 7 days; 

This guest blog has been provided by Pardip.

What typically happens in your workplace at lunchtime? let us know in the comments below.

Pardip Singhota (HR consultant)

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