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Employer says I am not allowed to heat up my breakfast
999

KittyKatty123 · 09/11/2021 16:21

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.

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Am I being unreasonable?

AIBU

You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

lottiegarbanzo · 09/11/2021 17:13

Yuck. Hot food smells and really isn't appropriate for an office.

Isn't there a staff room of some sort where you can go to eat lunch and could use for your late breakfast? Yes, split your lunch break and take this as a proper break.

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StillWalking · 09/11/2021 17:15

Scrambled eggs on toast at your desk sounds a bit yucky to me. Ditto baked beans - smells, potential for mess etc really isn't great in professional setting. What do you do with your dirty plate and cutlery? ... YABU. I think you need to restrict yourself cold things only if you absolutely must eat at your desk doing the working day. Why can't you eat before you come in to work?

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Allsorts1 · 09/11/2021 17:15

I guess it really depends on your role - it sounds hideously micromanaged for a professional role where you don’t even really have a lunch break, just pop out when hungry, but if you’re in the type of role that’s more monitored and you have set breaks then I can see their point. It’s also possibly someone actually annoyed about the smell, but instead of saying that they’ve worked themselves up to be cross at you about the time taken - and taken this to your manager.

The solution is to split your break and eat in the kitchen for 5 mins.

Alternatively, find a more chill less jobsworthy workplace if that’s possible for you!

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mam0918 · 09/11/2021 17:16

if you are sitting eating scrambled eggs and beans on toast at your desk you are NOT working you are just eating at your desk (your hand's aren't free and you can't possibly eat a MEAL like that and work, it's not an odd bit of a sandwich every other minute).

Trying to claim you are working and not having a break is obviously not pulling the wool over their eyes and they are irritated.

Eat your meal at the designated table during your break and the problem is solved.

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Pigeoninthehouse · 09/11/2021 17:16

@BarbaraofSeville

I'm also surprised about all the 'eat before you get to work comments'. I would have thought that, with the popularity of 16:8 type eating patterns, that people would be more used to having breakfast later in the day.

Her employer has offered to split her lunch break up so she can eat mid morning if that suits better. Presumably after eating a significant mid morning meal, she isn't then going on to eat a roast dinner or other large meal a couple of hours later for her lunch.
Instead I'd guess the op using her official lunch break, to do something other than eat.
And does the op not talk to her other colleagues , at all ?
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Batfinkwings · 09/11/2021 17:16

@LethargicActress

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.

I never understand why people say this! Do you really think that those of us who smoke are given extra breaks to go out for a fag?

We aren’t in the 80’s anymore, smokers just smoke when they get their allocated break time the same as everyone else.

I say this as en ex smoker. My smoking colleagues and I used to take up a fair amount of time in smoke breaks! Grin

I don't work in the kind of industry where people have an allocated break time, but I appreciate some companies must operate like that.
It would drive me nuts if I was micromanaged in that way.
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Allywill · 09/11/2021 17:17

I work in 2 offices (same employer). Office A people can eat at desks anytime, anything. No one aware of any rules - never been mentioned. Office B enforces a whole host of rules, only drinks or “snacks” at desks eg crisps, chocolate bar. They originally said no food that needed cutlery then amended it to no food inc sandwiches. They also had odd rules like not putting your coat/jacket on the back of the chair - had to be hung up on the rail.. this also extended to suit jackets - not sure about cardigans….I have no idea where these rules came from and no one questioned them. In fact they used to take great pleasure in saying “ you are not allowed to..” to anyone new or visiting. Very odd and childish in my opinion.

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Inmypjsagain · 09/11/2021 17:18

I agree it’s the smell- our office manager had words with a girl who keep microwaving eggs and fish, honestly stunk the office out- fish in particular smelled like cat food!

I did have a colleague who’d do this though and he got told off as well- the thing is, a sandwich you can eat with one hand while you’re working. Egg and beans on toast you can’t really do that, so our boss saw it as more than making a cup of tea etc, because he’d cook it, eat and his desk, then take his full hour lunch. Could it be that as well maybe?

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Inmypjsagain · 09/11/2021 17:19

Eat it at his desk* can’t type sorry

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CharityDingle · 09/11/2021 17:19

@Imabitbusyatthemoment

Cereal, yoghurt, and possibly porridge at desk all fine. Beans on toast and eggs, not fine. Too smelly, too messy and I would be very surprised if this hasn’t come from your colleagues.
I worked with a noisy, finger licking, 5-bag-a-day crisp eater once. Ended up leading to a full food-at-desk ban as so many people complained and they couldn’t find a better way of resolving it. For your colleagues sake, accept it.

Oh that brings back memories. I sat opposite the chomper, who when she finished an apple, would then start on her yoghurt with accompanying mmm mmm sounds, and lots of scraping at the yoghurt pot with a spoon. And it went on all day.

It was brought up anonymously, not by me, (possibly by the guy who sat beside her) that everyone should take a proper break and not eat at their desks. She wasn't happy but it stopped.

OP, I would say as others have said, it's the smells, plus the fact that it's a full on meal, rather than a quick snack.
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JesusIsAnyNameFree · 09/11/2021 17:19

@BarbaraofSeville

I'm also surprised about all the 'eat before you get to work comments'. I would have thought that, with the popularity of 16:8 type eating patterns, that people would be more used to having breakfast later in the day.

Absolutely. There's still no need to faff in the kitchen to make yourself a hot meal though. Just drink a smoothie or something.

I'm pretty surprised you leave the desk to make breakfast during your working hours. I have never known anyone to do that. Run to the coffee machine, yes, but that's less than 60 seconds.
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Metabigot · 09/11/2021 17:20

Thermos food flask?

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Mantlemoose · 09/11/2021 17:20

@SliceOfCakeCupOfTea

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.

This
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lnsufficientFuns · 09/11/2021 17:21

Yeah it’s selfish

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LuckyHindleyBells · 09/11/2021 17:23

Your boss sounds very controlling op. Is this a sweatshop? I would understand if this was a smell issue - but the manager does not mention smell at all. So is it a time issue? Why would someone be so intolerant of a 5 minute break? Or is the issue microwaving (why ever that may be - microwave depreciation)? I would test the rootcause of your boss's strange attitude by taking my 5 mins to make a cold breakfast - go and slowly butter some cold toast and wash some fruit in the sink.

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Irishfarmer · 09/11/2021 17:23

I don't really want to vote either way because I don't think YABU, I've worked in offices were plenty of people have had breakfast including eggs/ porridge/ sausage rolls at their desk, but it's not a cross to die on either! So YABU if you pursue this

If it was a smell issue then that's what your manager would have said. It's a perceived thing. So just bring in something cold.

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ArblemarchTFruitbat · 09/11/2021 17:25

Your boss sounds very controlling op. Is this a sweatshop?

Grin Grin Grin

Heard it all now!

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MLMshouldbeillegal · 09/11/2021 17:26

Urgh, I would not want to sit next to someone eating eggs or beans.

Bowl of cold cereal or a sandwich is different. Or perhaps a pot of porridge.

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icedcoffees · 09/11/2021 17:26

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.

Because microwaved eggs and beans smell like fart, lol.

Have a bowl of cereal instead.

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FelicityPike · 09/11/2021 17:26

How about a tub of overnight oats?

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LittleMysSister · 09/11/2021 17:26

Tbh I think it's just one of those (usually) unspoken rules where it's fine to have breakfast at your desk but it needs to be something quick and something you can be seen to be working through. Ie, croissant, instant porridge, yoghurt etc.

Something which requires a knife and fork, like beans or egg on toast, would usually be reserved for a break time.

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Wotsitsits · 09/11/2021 17:27

I was all set to vote YANBU until I got to the part where you're microwaving EGGS OP Envy not envy

The issue is the smell, 100%.

The fact your employer has specifically said cold breakfasts are allowed, is your clue there!!!

If you want a protein rich breakfast, do a meat sandwich or quiche I guess Grin

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Unmerited · 09/11/2021 17:27

@Chippymunks

I think you are being U, it’s the smell plus what if everyone starts to do this? Where do they draw the line? Numerous hot breakfasts going on, toasted tea cakes in the afternoon etc.

NOT TOASTED TEACAKES IN THE AFTERNOON! Grin
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Namechangedox · 09/11/2021 17:27

Is instant porridge pots a no no then? My shift starts at 7.30am and finishes at 8pm there's no time for breakfast in the morning.

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Drinkingallthewine · 09/11/2021 17:28

There's always one person who takes the absolute piss out of a social norm in the office and it results in a blanket ban on it then for everyone else.

Split your lunch break up so you can eat your breakfast in the canteen.

Or bring a non-smelly cold breakfast you can eat with a spoon while working.

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