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To think it's pretty normal not to have a lunch break?

(156 Posts)
IdaClair Thu 27-Feb-14 15:01:48

I work for myself at the moment, and most days the first chance I have to eat is dinner time. Sometimes I have breakfast, sometimes I don't. Friends and family have said to me that I should have a 'lunch break ' and seem appalled by the idea that I don't have one, saying I should 'make sure' I do.

I have what is essentially a shop and there is maybe 5 minutes a day where I am not serving customers directly, and there is often a queue. Breaking for lunch is not an option! To me it seems perfectly normal not to have a lunch break, I have only ever had one in an office job. Every other job I have had in customer facing stuff like event management, catering, customer service, caring roles, even waitstaff and barwork -there wasn't a lunch break. There were a few that did a strict 15 mins every 4 hours type of system, but nothing longer than that and most things were on a 'grab two minutes if you can where there is time ' basis - and there was never normally any time! I would often do a 12 hour shift doing something like a wedding and no-one would stop the proceedings so the staff could have a break, and in some remote country hotel you've never been to before with a kitchen busy with 200 guests, unless you brought a pack up there isn't exactly any food available even if you wanted it.

I am sure there are many professions which are so busy and unpredictable you don't get a 'lunch hour'.

AIBU to think that there is no such thing as a lunch break in many roles and it's not exactly a shocking thing or some kind of deprivation?

eeetheygrowupsofast Thu 27-Feb-14 15:05:00

No I don't get a lunch break. Might nip out to Sainsbury's for a doughnut sandwich but that's about it. Doesn't bother me at all. I can get work done in relative quiet and/or Mumsnet for 10 mins!

MelanieCheeks Thu 27-Feb-14 15:05:16

I think there are rules for employers about allowing staff a break after a certain number of hours work. Being self-employed you get to set your won rules, but most employees would find no-lunch-break unreasonable.

ballinacup Thu 27-Feb-14 15:05:31

If you have your own business it's up to you. If you're an employee, there are some pretty strict laws governing how often a person is entitled to a break. I would be pretty shocked if an employee told me they didn't rest/eat/drink for 12 hours and I'd take a dim view of their employer for allowing/encouraging that.

MrsMoon76 Thu 27-Feb-14 15:05:55

I officially have a lunch hour but realistically its 30 minutes away from my desk. I have had more customer facing roles over the years bth in most there has been some kind of break. I would have eaten and worked at my desk regularly but have stopped this. Isn't it a legal requirement to have a break if you are an employee? If you had someone in the shop with you you would be able to take a break. I suspect it tends to be different for those who are self employed and/or sole traders.

curiousuze Thu 27-Feb-14 15:10:27

I've done all sorts of jobs (bar work, waitressing, kitchen work, office work, farm work, on a till, stacking shelves...) I can't think of one where I didn't get regular breaks. I've never had my own business though.

ComposHat Thu 27-Feb-14 15:12:22

What is the point of this post op, some sort of competitive masochism, bragging or an attempt to remind people employed by others, how tough the self employed have it?

But YANBU to work without a lunch break if you are self employed. YABU to assume other people working for you will do the same.

derektheladyhamster Thu 27-Feb-14 15:14:25

When I worked in a shop we would grab a tea in the 5 mins we were quiet, but no one ever took an hour for lunch! We did have a lunch break, but it was only for as long as it took to buy and eat it. But there was always dead times when we could pop out if necessary.

Quite looking forward to my new job where I get a free cooked meal every lunchtime (in a school)

TempusFuckit Thu 27-Feb-14 15:14:54

I think it's very common for people to take much less than a full hour lunch break.

However, I think it's rare - and unacceptable, regardless of employment status - to not take even two minutes to rest and eat. That seems like a recipe for ill health to me.

Selks Thu 27-Feb-14 15:16:05

It might not be the norm for many people to get a lunch break but that doesn't make it ok.

I'm not paid for my lunch break but do I get the chance to take it? Very rarely.

Quoteunquote Thu 27-Feb-14 16:18:36

We have a company rule that everyone has a lunch break, and eats,

I find that it significantly reduces mistakes , accidents and significantly improves productivity.

ProfondoRosso Thu 27-Feb-14 16:25:52

I agree that if you are employed by someone else and they don't allow you to take a lunch break or visibly don't like you taking one, that's unreasonable.

In one shop that I worked in, where I was a supervisor, colleagues would think nothing of coming down to the staff room, when I was in the middle of lunch, and asking me to come back to the floor. And you couldn't take extra time in lieu of what you missed later on. To me, that was horrible. Being on my feet all day, I needed to sit down and refuel.

In my current job, I always take lunch. Rarely an hour, usually more like 30-40 mins but I'm damned if anyone thinks they're taking that off me.

Wantsunshine Thu 27-Feb-14 16:26:05

I work in an office, not customer facing and don't have lunch breaks. Everyone here has a sandwich at there desks and continues with emails, conference calls.

iliketea Thu 27-Feb-14 16:27:00

I've recently moved to lead a team where it's normal practice to not bother with a lunch break. And as team manager, I've instigated that everyone at least takes 20 mins together for a cup of tea at least. We are lucky that it's not a shop, so most can have lunch together. It's much better for team morale, in my experience if people feel that their welfare is as important as getting the work done. Also, I we work in a role where making mistakes could seriously injure someone, and people tend to work better if they take 20mins out to rest in the middle of the day.

Obviously if you don't want to have a break if your self-employed, that's up to you, but in no way should you expect your employees to work straight through 12 hours without a proper break.

ouryve Thu 27-Feb-14 16:28:00

Well done, you, for going from breakfast to dinner time without eating hmm

ProfondoRosso Thu 27-Feb-14 16:30:31

This, to me, it's a lot to do with what's wrong with the way we work in this country.

To be productive, you need sufficient rest. If I don't get that rest, I'm shooting myself in the foot because I won't be as productive later on. I used to eat at my desk, taking about 5 mins for lunch, but get so much more done now that I actually take a real break. I'm less sluggish, less easily distracted, more motivated.

I don't condemn anyone who eats quickly at their desk, but if you feel you don't have a choice that's a problem.

SueDoku Thu 27-Feb-14 16:44:39

Legally, if you are an employee, you are entitled to a 20 minute break if you are working for 6 hours or more. See here for details:

IdaClair Thu 27-Feb-14 16:47:03

Fgs it's not competitive masochism hmm

Nor is it about how much I or anyone eats.

I am surprised at the level of consternation in not building a lunch break in to a day when in 15 years of paid work in varying industries at all levels I have only had a lunch break per se in the office based roles. I am wondering how other industries manage it. I mainly have experience of living and working in small town, small scale businesses, perhaps that is why.

I do not employ anyone or expect anyone to work without a break. I just did not think it was a big deal until coming home and saying things like I'm hungry, no chance to eat today and being 'told off' by family and friends.

ComtesseDeSpair Thu 27-Feb-14 16:53:49

I agree that it's normal in the UK, but wrong, especially where there's a workplace culture of discouraging lunch breaks.

I work for a mental health charity and one of the core beliefs of the organisation is that we all need to look after ourselves and rest and eat well in order to maintain health and wellbeing and to be able to do ourjobs to the best of our ability. That means that taking some downtime at lunchtime to eat in a relaxed manner, have a chat, read the paper or whatever is important. Head office closes to calls and visitors for 45 minutes over lunch and as a senior manager I do make sure everyone takes a lunch break and am quite stern with colleagues who say they're working through it.

We're a very efficient workplace, consistently meet our targets and business certainly doesn't suffer. Staff turnover is low and sick days low also.

Prozacbear Thu 27-Feb-14 16:54:18

Like Wantsunshine, it's standard practice here not to have a lunch break. Productivity slows down while people eat (having popped out for 5 minutes) but it's pretty much business as usual.

Office, but our team is outward-facing and a lot of our contact comes over lunch, when other people are at lunch.

I do miss lunch breaks.

Scarletohello Thu 27-Feb-14 17:03:24

I have never worked somewhere where people don't have lunch breaks. It's unhealthy, as others have said, bad for morale and personally I couldn't function if I didn't eat and have a bit of a break at lunchtime. I have low blood sugar and need to eat! It's normal...

TheDoctorsNewKidneys Thu 27-Feb-14 17:06:44

I've never had a job that didn't have lunch breaks. Not always paid, but they were there and it is law for employers to give you a break after a certain amount of hours.

Ragwort Thu 27-Feb-14 17:11:53

I think it's pretty normal, but I agree that it's not necessarily the right thing.

In my previous job I worked in a very high pressure environment where the phones were always ringing, I made sure everyone else had a break but I didn't often get one myself and if I needed to speak to my dickhead boss I just had to stay in our department (never forget missing a really good lunch out at a top restaurant whilst waiting for him angry).

I am about to start a new job and have been in for a couple of taster days and noticed that it is not the norm to take a lunch break - it is a customer facing role, there is literally no one else responsible who can be left in charge.

chosenone Thu 27-Feb-14 17:12:10

People working through lunch is this time paid or unpaid ? As a teacher our 50 minute lunch is unpaid I usually spend it with kids in detention/ rehearsal but sometimes go and have a lunch break for 20 minutes inthe staff room.

TetrisBlock Thu 27-Feb-14 17:23:08

Not normal at all in my industry although lunch breaks are of course unpaid.

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