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to want a lunch break?

(37 Posts)
MirandaGoshawk Sun 28-Aug-11 14:00:20

I work some afternoons in a small shop. The owners (a DH & DW) have two other shops in another town a few miles away, which they both work in, doing full days. They have another staff member who is leaving & would like me to cover for some days. I met this other lady yesterday & was surprised to hear that she, and the owners, all do 9.30 to 5pm alone with no breaks - just eat sandwiches behind the counter, with a ten-minute lock-up & dash to buy them if necessary. I asked the owner & he confirmed this.

They are small, pleasant, specialist shops so not busy/raking in money, & times are hard. But AIBU to want half an hour or 45 mins to browse the (new to me) shops & have a change of scene?

What do you think?

Empusa Sun 28-Aug-11 14:03:14

You are legally entitled to a break


"Rest breaks - a break during your working day

As an adult worker (over 18), you will normally have the right to a 20 minute rest break if you are expected to work more than six hours at a stretch.

A lunch or coffee break can count as your rest break. Additional breaks might be given by your contract of employment. There is no statutory right to 'smoking breaks'.

The requirements are:

the break must be in one block
it cannot be taken off one end of the working day - it must be somewhere in the middle
you are allowed to spend it away from the place on your employer's premises where you work
your employer can say when the break must be taken, as long as it meets these conditions"

ilovesooty Sun 28-Aug-11 14:30:35

Yes, you are entitled to 20 minutes. If you don't take them, under H&S law you cannot simply put the responsibility on your employer. Legally H&S is your responsibility too.

Finallygotaroundtoit Sun 28-Aug-11 14:47:09

'you are allowed to spend it away from the place on your employer's premises where you work'

My DSis works in an hospital, she rarely gets breaks and even if she did her contract states that she cannot leave the hospital for them!

Is the NHS exempt from the law?

joric Sun 28-Aug-11 14:49:03

Do you get a rest throughout the day when it's quiet ? As in time when you are doing nothing with customers?

cat64 Sun 28-Aug-11 15:09:24

Message withdrawn

Cereal Sun 28-Aug-11 15:16:06

YANBU. It's part of today's unhealthy "look busy" culture.

MirandaGoshawk Sun 28-Aug-11 15:19:27

Empusa - thanks. Presumably the break doesn't have to be paid? Anyway I'll have a look.
joric Yes, you get a rest when it's dead. To the point that I'm concerned I might get sleepy, mid-afternoon! Which is why I'd like to get out into the daylight (shop is quite dark) and recharge the batteries. I can't imagine being stuck in the same small room for all those hours (can stand outside for a bit, I suppose). I haven't done a full day there yet but would take in a book/magazine.
cat64 Can't work longer in this case - no point in staying open longer if the other shops around open these hours. But I could ask for a half-hour closing at some point (after lunch, 2pm would be reasonable). It would be unpaid, but that's OK with me. The thing is that he & his DW both work through & presumably he won't be happy about me closing.

Empusa Sun 28-Aug-11 15:39:05

From what I remember the 20 min break does have to be paid, but any additional breaks don't.

So most of my previous jobs would give us (if working 9-6) one 20 min break which was paid, and one 1 hour break which wasn't.

joric Sun 28-Aug-11 15:42:37

I'd say boredom is the problem rather than needing a break. If you were non-stop in a busy coffee shop, I would say you need a break from working flat out. I understand your need for fresh air but what would you be having a break from? Especially if when working you have time to read magazines and books!!!
Find other ways to stop the boredom.

joric Sun 28-Aug-11 15:44:31

YABU by the way but I think I understand why- I used to work in a job where I just stood there all day... I felt like I was going to go mad.

MirandaGoshawk Sun 28-Aug-11 20:13:50

Yeah, I'll do a bit of dusting. Forgot to mention that. That'll stop the boredom, eh?

Kladdkaka Sun 28-Aug-11 20:19:59

Finallygotaroundtoit I think it means the actual place you work ie your desk, till, ward etc. I'm guessing they are complying if they have a staff room or canteen or such like.

FabbyChic Sun 28-Aug-11 20:21:42

If you work more than 6 hours you are LEGALLY entitled to a break what others do is not of your concern, what you are entitled to is.

joric Sun 28-Aug-11 20:40:37

Miranda- I work 8.00-4.00 and I don't have set breaks or lunches.. I have time to eat my lunch and have a drink now and then throughout the day.
You have said yourself that you have time to read magazines or books. Well there's your break.
If you are bored yes, do something about it.. If the only thing you can think of is dusting I pity you.

FabbyChic Sun 28-Aug-11 20:42:11

Health & Safety dictates that you take at least a 30 minute break away from your duties after 6 hours.

If an employer does not do that they are in breach of employment law.

joric Sun 28-Aug-11 20:45:03

And if someone is in a job where they have quiet time to read a book regularly throughout the day. There is the break. This OP doesn't sound run off her feet. More like cabin fever.

joric Sun 28-Aug-11 20:48:35

For example ... OP's quiet shop opens at 9.00... Customers until 9.20... No customers for 10 min... Customers until 9.40... No customers for 10 min.... I won't do the whole day but the 'breaks from duties' add up

mouthwash7 Sun 28-Aug-11 20:51:11

I guess it depends on how much you want the job. If i am understanding, there would be nobody to cover your lunch break. As such the shop would have to close, at lunchtime, presumably when trade would be higher.

No doubt there are quiet times, when you could have a read or eat a sandwich.

If you were in a large corporation where there was cover and it didn't affect business I would think you were not being unreasonable. Particularly if you were in a very busy role where there literally isn't a minute to yourself.

But for a small business, with quiet periods, where trade is likely to be higher at that time, I think YABU.

Appreciate the health and safety legislation. But I see it from the other side where small businesses are struggling to survive myself. It's not as though not having a lunch break in this scenario is going to cause a health and safety accident.

MirandaGoshawk Sun 28-Aug-11 20:56:56

So, seven and a half hours of customers for ten minutes, then no customers for half an hour or more (which is typical). Is fine for three hours, but then, er, need to escape? No?

Yes, you're right, it's cabin fever. But surely that means a change of scene is in order.

ticklebumpkin Sun 28-Aug-11 20:57:01

YANBU - you are entitled to a break.

Joric's example doesn't really help if you've got to do something like arrange a doctors or dentist appointment - you have no idea when you are going to have no customers!

Equally, to my mind it's not a 'break' if, at any moment, you can be expected to stop being on your break and start serving someone.

Whether those are considerations for everyone though, is irrelevant. They employer has a legal duty to ensure you are able to take a break - if you want one, you should have one. It doesn't matter in the slightest how other MNers choose to spend their working day.

You are legally entitled to a break - your employer should enable you to have one.

the end.

ilovesooty Sun 28-Aug-11 21:00:16

It's 20 minutes, FabbyChic

MirandaGoshawk Sun 28-Aug-11 21:02:09

mouthwash Yes, this is exactly the point - the shop would have to close. But as I said, I could make it 2pm rather than lunchtime when it's likely to be busier.

I don't want to stick my neck out with my employer unless I am very sure of being in the right. So I appreciate everyone's views. Thanks.

ilovesooty Sun 28-Aug-11 21:02:41

mouthwash7 there could be long term health implications for workers who never take a lunch break and they as well as their employers are responsible. Businesses struggling is no excuse to flout employment law.

ChippingIn Sun 28-Aug-11 21:04:03

What mouthwash said. It isn't practical to give a sole employee in a retail situation a lunch break. If you don't want the job, thousands of others will gladly take it I'm sure.

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