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How would you handle someone complaining about you taking breaks

(34 Posts)
footballcrazy11 Thu 22-Feb-18 07:48:15

In a work meeting yesterday and one of the managers (not my manager) complained that I am uncontactable during my scheduled breaks. This is not true as I divert my calls to my mobile but even so surely this is my own time!
I was caught on the back foot but said well what does everybody else do and the response was no one else really takes their breaks they eat etc at their desk. (not true)
I was raging!
I want to take it up with my boss today (who was present) but not sure how to approach it?

Skittlesss Thu 22-Feb-18 07:52:54

Are you paid for your breaks? If not then they're yours to do as you please.

I used to work in a role where I had paid lunch breaks... but this was so that my employer could cut them short if need be.

footballcrazy11 Thu 22-Feb-18 07:55:39

No not paid

Skittlesss Thu 22-Feb-18 07:58:26

Then as far as I know your lunch break time is your own. If it's scheduled then surely they know not to try contact you during that time. Maybe ask your manager what they think about what was said?

PaperdollCartoon Thu 22-Feb-18 08:00:15

You have a right to take your breaks and as they are BREAKS there is not requirement to be contactable within them, whether they’re paid or not. Tell your boss this. Having breaks in the day refreshes you and makes you better at your job, it’s not a good things to slave all day and never get up from your desk.

This country has an awful attitude to the workplace.

SpringHen Thu 22-Feb-18 08:04:12

I have made a similar complaint

I do not object to people being uncontactable on their breaks but the reason we NEEDED to contact THIS person on his break was when it was his break time he just ghosted away

Everyone else lets the team know vaguely where theyre up to with work and if theyre expecting any calls or anything imminant thats due to happen. This way you dont look incompetant and clueless when covering for them

He doesnt. He just disappears. And its caused problems as noone knew what the fuck was going on with his work AND he wasnt around to ask!

PerfumeIsAMessage Thu 22-Feb-18 08:04:26

Do you mean lunch breaks or short breaks? What did they want to contact you for?

I'm a teacher (not UK) only paid for the hours I teach, but can't quite imagine I'd still be in a job if I didn't answer messages etc about my classes when I wasn't working.

I think it's a difficult one. There are (sad though it is) few jobs these days where you can really insist on not being contacted in your free time about work stuff.

However, if you aren't paid for your breaks (so not on a salary, but on an hourly rate) then I suppose you could insist on not being contacted during your break.

footballcrazy11 Thu 22-Feb-18 08:08:24

The point is i am contactable anyway
My calls are diverted to me

Elocutioner Thu 22-Feb-18 08:10:47

I had a manager (who was a twat) do this. I just said that was fine, I'd be happy to take calls from him whilst sat on the loo if he didn't mind.

He stfu after that.

PiffIeandWiffle Thu 22-Feb-18 08:13:37

He just disappears

You'd hate me then, I go running on my lunch break & am uncontactable for 50 minutes.

If your organisation is so piss poor that you "NEED" to contact someone in an hour window then I suggest you take a look at it.

Like most people I do extra here & there so have no qualms about taking back a bit of "me time" when I'm entitled to.

RadioGaGoo Thu 22-Feb-18 08:14:02

No way. I wouldn't expect anyone to try to contact me whilst I am on my lunch break. My colleagues are perfectly capable of explaining to a customer that I am away from my desk and will return a call.

Unless the matter was one of a personal emergency, I wouldn't dream of trying to contact my collegues during their lunch break.

pinkdelight Thu 22-Feb-18 08:15:22

You shouldn't have to stay at your desk, but I've never been in an office in the public or private sector where someone has been rigid about taking their scheduled breaks and switching to voicemail for the duration. What type of work is it? What are they contacting you about that they feel is so urgent it can't wait twenty minutes? Do you have a good relationship there generally? You are, of course, in the right, but to be "raging" is quite extreme/adversarial as is the stance that you should either a) always be contactable or b) never be troubled during your breaks. Most places I've worked have rules but end up being flexible on both sides. Obviously if they're arseholes and take the pee constantly, then I'd stand my ground and look for better employers, but if it's just this one person who has this problem with you, then raise it with you boss saying you're concerned about the comment in the meeting and want to know if there's an issue that needs addressing around people taking their breaks. Keep it about the bigger issue and making sure everyone gets their breaks rather than the personal thing with this colleague.

PerfumeIsAMessage Thu 22-Feb-18 08:15:56

But do they know where you actually are?
Why are they calling you?

We need more context tbh!

Are these diverted calls calls you are supposed to be answering? Do you answer them? Is there a client somewhere just getting through to your voicemail so getting stroppy and ringing the company? Are the calls your line manager saying where are you, why didn't you say you were going out?

PerfumeIsAMessage Thu 22-Feb-18 08:18:09

What's the signing in/out procedure? Lunchtime cover procedure?

Just thinking back to my time in an office, we had to clock in and out and not everyone could go off at the same time. You organised it with your team/line manager who was going when. You weren't contacted during that time, but you couldn't just up and leave and someone on your team had to take over your calls.

I have a temp job in the summer where I'm responsible for all staff on site and I have to know where they are (on/off site) in case of fire alarms.

AjasLipstick Thu 22-Feb-18 08:18:27

It depends on your job really OP.

I once worked at a small attraction and I was in a little hut, away from the main building...doing face painting.

One day, two men had a massive punch up in front of the queue of kids and it was AWFUL!

I rang and rang the number for security and got no answer! Same with the shop.

I was so upset and why? Security guard was on his break!

JoJoSM2 Thu 22-Feb-18 08:20:42

I would have said that was the point of breaks - to have a break from work. And ask what his problem was. If need be, I'd point out that legally you're entitled to breaks.

footballcrazy11 Thu 22-Feb-18 08:26:13

Ok I work in sales
I divert the calls to my mobile do I don't miss from customers. I am only out the back door reading a book and my break is 30 mins. They only wanted some paperwork so could have waited until I returned. I am really flexible with break times and some days skip them if too busy

coffeeforone Thu 22-Feb-18 08:40:33

Could you read the book at your desk so that they can interrupt you if needed? I think they are wrong but maybe it’s just the culture to be available in person during breaks. Do others leave their desks at lunchtime?

Trendy1 Thu 22-Feb-18 08:40:43

Well, that is not a break, IMHO. A break means completely stopping from doing the job. If you are taking calls, you are not resting at all. What is the point of leaving your desk? I have worked in a similar role. People who leave their desk for meetings, etc, say where they are going so you don't look an idiot if their phone goes. The same for lunch breaks. Then someone just says 'back in half hour'. Do people not take messages any more?! grin

SpringHen Thu 22-Feb-18 08:53:32


Did you read past the first line of my post?

The issue was that BEFORE going on break he didnt give anyone who was going to end up covering for him a heads up on anything they might have to field for him while he's gone. We have had some very justifiably angry service users who felt fobbed off etc because nobody else had a clue of where he was at with anything.

It would have been easy to give us a heads up before going on break so that we could hold the fort. Instead HE put us in a position where we had to try to contact him urgently.

Im all for "proper" breaks, but if youre going to be that territorial about your breaks that noone can cover them, then you gotta stick around

LakieLady Thu 22-Feb-18 08:54:32

My team are in and out all day. Most will take at least 20 minutes without taking calls, as otherwise we'd be constantly on the phone to challenging clients and stroppy social workers.

The only time it was an issue was when we had "tandem" parking in the underground car park. When you had to block someone else in, you made sure that they knew you had, and that knew what time they had to leave, so you could let them out if necessary. We had one staff member who would block people in without telling them then go to lunch and turn her phone off. How she never got lynched I don't know.

I think breaks are really important to de-stress and give your brain a rest. If I have a day when I'm in the office all day doing admin, I make a point of going out for a stroll at lunchtime, even if it's pouring down. I feel much better when I come back.

So yes, YANBU

SpringHen Thu 22-Feb-18 08:55:29

Im all for "proper" breaks, but if youre going to be that territorial about your breaks that noone can cover them, then you gotta stick around

..territorial about your work .....

footballcrazy11 Thu 22-Feb-18 08:58:40

No one has to take my calls. If someone needed me urgently they would know where to find me. It's a 2 minute walk from them

LakieLady Thu 22-Feb-18 08:58:57

SpringHen, surely that's easily resolved by asking him to make sure someone knows where he is and that he briefs them about anything unresolved? And if he then doesn't do that, it's a performance management issue.

Married3Children Thu 22-Feb-18 08:59:18

No people don’t take messages anymore because your u are supposed to be contactable in your mobile or have an answering machine on.
Which tbf, the OP was.

The issue was that basically someone (a man?) wanted something immediately and the OP (a woman) wasn't there to do so there and then.

I think you need to have a word with your boss because, tbh, you could have been doing a lot of other things when the the person who complained arrived.
I would go and see him and tell him you want to check with him what is the procedure regarding your lunch break and is it ok for you to be away from your desk? I doubt he will go down the route of ‘no you have to stay at your desk for your half an hour break’ as he will be aware this is supposed to be a BREAK and you can do whatever you want (incl going for a walk/run, running some errands etc). Also that saying you have to be there wouldn’t go down well with HR!
Just make it clear and if the other manager is complaining again, Just explain that this has been discussed and agreed with your boss.

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