Employer says I am not allowed to heat up my breakfast

(946 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

KittyKatty123 Tue 09-Nov-21 16:21:10

I work full time, 9-5, computer facing all day, work that requires a lot of concentration. I understand the important of taking regular breaks to get away from the screen but don't take the mickey with this. I can't eat first thing in the morning so I have always eaten mid-morning, at my desk, sometimes something cold, sometimes something that needs a minute or two in the staff microwave.

Past employers have never had an issue with this.

I'm fairly new to this job but in the past two months that others have observed me doing this, including my line manager, no-one has ever raised it as an issue. We have access to a microwave and toaster so sometimes I'll bring in a tub of beans, or eggs that I've already put in a bowl and whisked at home so it takes 2 minutes in the microwave to heat them, sometimes I'll do some toast at the same time. All during the space of time it takes me to make my first cup of tea of the day - which is taken after having already put in 1-2 hours work since I got in that morning.

All of a sudden my line manager took me aside and said "it had been noticed" that I was heating up my breakfast and that I was no longer to do this as it was in work time, that the microwave and toaster were only for lunch breaks, unless I decided to split my break over both. This seems ridiculous to me as it takes max 5 minutes and I then bring it back to eat at my desk whilst working. I have seen colleagues gone for much much longer than this if they get into social conversation with colleagues.

Also, this instruction was directed only to me, not as a general "heads up" to the team or department as a whole, so it very personal.

In my mind, from an occupational health point of view, it is very important to take regular breaks throughout the day from VDU work, to make tea, go to the loo, chat with a colleague etc, so why is heating up food whilst making my tea any different.

Am I being unreasonable here? Do others do this at work with no issue? As I said, past employers have never had issue with it and I don't take the piss with it. Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
KittyKatty123 Tue 09-Nov-21 16:23:05

Just to add - if it is a cold breakfast - apparently this is OK!!

OP’s posts: |
safariboot Tue 09-Nov-21 16:23:53

Hot food in offices is often unpopular because of smells. Eating that sort of stuff in front of your computer also risks spills. I don't think they have to provide a microwave at all if they don't want to.

EileenGC Tue 09-Nov-21 16:24:07

I’d just say ‘cool, I’ll take a 27 minute lunch break instead to make up for the lost time’. And then continue as you’ve been doing so far - unless you’re always taking longer lunch breaks - they won’t be able to say anything.

If you’re still working at the same pace whilst you eat, I don’t see the issue. Alternatively, could you come in 10 mins early in the morning to make up for the time you spend eating later on?

BasementIdeas Tue 09-Nov-21 16:25:11

They’ve given you the option of splitting your break between breakfast and lunch which is fair

washingmachines4 Tue 09-Nov-21 16:25:21

I think you'll find the underlying issue is with smell - most people don't want to be around a microwaved eggs and beans smell. Cold breakfasts generally don't smell and therefore are more acceptable.

nicelyneurotic Tue 09-Nov-21 16:25:22

Someone has probably complained about the smell of your food. Can you eat it away from your colleagues?


Whatelsecouldibecalled Tue 09-Nov-21 16:25:23

I eat my breakfast at work. But before I start work. I start at 8. East breakfast at 7.45. My employer doesn’t pay for breaks so would be pissed off I have a break on work time.

Also could it be the smell of the food annoying people? Cold food like cereal doesn’t usually smell as much

Popskipiekin Tue 09-Nov-21 16:25:39

YABslighlyU. I expect people have commented as it must look odd you having a hot meal at your desk so early on in the day, and tbh I’m not sure anyone works properly whilst eating, especially something involving cutlery.

I’d move to always having something cold, if you have to. Also, it hasn’t been mentioned, but warm food does smell… perhaps that is an unvoiced objection?

TheSpottedZebra Tue 09-Nov-21 16:27:03

Agree, it's definitely the smell!

BlameItOnTheBlackStar Tue 09-Nov-21 16:27:27

Well I personally wouldn't care, but your manager clearly does so I think what he says goes unfortunately...I don't think arguing for your right to eat breakfast during work time is going to get you very far.

Batfinkwings Tue 09-Nov-21 16:27:31

I'm stubborn, and it annoys me when a workplace doesn't treat people like adults. So I would probably sweetly say "Ok that's fine, I'll take the five minutes out of my lunch hour and just have a 55 minute lunch break".
Really, if you're not taking the piss I don't see why it would be a problem. I imagine smokers take up much longer out of their day to have smoke breaks.

StormyTeacups Tue 09-Nov-21 16:28:00

I think a full hot breakfast is pushing it, you may take it back to your desk but presumably you aren't fully working while eating with a knife and fork?

Maybe take a yogurt, or cereal. Or do what most people do and eat before work.

DartmoorChef Tue 09-Nov-21 16:28:34

Are you the only one that does this? If so then not unreasonable to just direct this at you.

Either get up earlier so you can eat a hot breakfast or just take a sandwich in that doesn't require cooking and doesn't require eating with a knife and fork or give out smells to the rest of the office.

StormyTeacups Tue 09-Nov-21 16:28:41

And eggs and beans smell

Westfacing Tue 09-Nov-21 16:28:50

If they've given you the option of splitting your breaks, then I assume it's not a question of the smell of warm food.

Could be perception - someone thinks that by cooking your breakfast you're taking more time, even if you're not?

TempleofZoom Tue 09-Nov-21 16:29:23

Beans/ eggs on toast is taking the piss and stinks the office out.
Ive never,ever seen anyone at work have more than a bowl of cereal or a yoghurt.
Yabu and cheeky.

Bancha Tue 09-Nov-21 16:30:05

On the face of it, you don’t sound unreasonable, as long as you’re able to work while you eat. PP have said it could be that people don’t like the smell, but surely they should say that then. So if the issue truly is the time it takes (and it doesn’t sound like it takes very long) then I’d just carry on as you are and take 5 minutes less for lunch. And possibly look for work during the rest of my lunch break, as I can’t stand organisations like that!

SliceOfCakeCupOfTea Tue 09-Nov-21 16:30:09

I used to have a colleague who did this and it pissed me off to no end.
While she was stirring up her porridge and blowing it to cool it down, she couldnt properly perform tasks. She could only type with one hand, often couldn't answer the phone as she was chewing. It would take her longer to so a simple email or input some data while she was eating than it would normally, and while this was only for 10-15 minutes per day, it was every day and very annoying.

Also microwave eggs stink.

HoikingUpMyBigGirlPantss Tue 09-Nov-21 16:30:35

Hot food smells more and it's presumably the smell that ypur colleagues have objected to? If you ate a cold breakfast at yr desk or eat hot food in the kitchen would they still object?

TMChappyascanbe Tue 09-Nov-21 16:30:36

Why are you eating at your desk? Discustin

Floralnomad Tue 09-Nov-21 16:30:51

Just tell them you will take 10 minutes of your lunch break for breakfast and eat your breakfast away from your desk . There is absolutely no way you are working efficiently at a computer with a spoon or fork in your hand .

FlaggRF Tue 09-Nov-21 16:30:58

I think it's probably the smell of egg and beans in the morning, plus doing it during work time.

Can't you get up 10 mins early and do it at home?

Id be pretty annoyed by people eating smelly food like eggs at their desk.

LethargicActress Tue 09-Nov-21 16:31:37

Yabu to microwave eggs and expect people not to notice, they smell.

Really, if you want to eat at your desk it during work time it should be something snacky, like a cereal bar or nuts in a bag or something. Beans or eggs with toast is a meal not a snack, so not something that you should have at your desk while you’re meant to be working.

Your point about regular breaks is not valid. You can have a break without having a cooked breakfast.

StarryNight04 Tue 09-Nov-21 16:31:40

YABU, taking a couple of minutes to make a cup of tea is different to faffing around microwaving food and making toast. Plus I agree the smell can't be pleasant if you're eating at your desk.

I'd just stick to a quick cold breakfast or accept their offer that you can split your lunch break.

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