Employee forced to apologise for taking lunch 3 minutes early

Employee forced to apologise for taking lunch 3 minutes early

A Japanese employee has been humiliated by his bosses because he “habitually” left his desk three minutes early to slip out and buy some lunch.

The 64-year-old, an employee of the waterworks bureau in the western city of Kobe, was found to be leaving his work station three minutes early on 26 occasions over a seven-month period - the Guardian reports.

As a result, senior officials at the bureau called a news conference where they described the man’s conduct as “deeply regrettable” and bowed in apology.

“The lunch break is from noon to 1pm,” a spokesperson said. “He left his desk before the break.”

The punishment came as Japan debates its traditional long working hours. Last month, the country’s lower house passed a bill that caps overtime at 100 hours a month, because there has been a rise in the number of employees dying from karoshi – a word which translates to death from overwork.

Having such a strict attitude towards working hours can be harmful to the productivity of a company, as employees need to be able to take adequate breaks in order to maintain their focus.

Cary Cooper, the 50th Anniversary Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at the Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, told HR Grapevine that encouraging staff to take a full hour of lunch is good for their health and your productivity.

“From a wellbeing perspective, having a break is so important,” he said. “We’re too sedentary at work – that chance to get outside of the office and be away from screens gives you that chance to mentally detox.”

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He also gave us top tips to ensure colleagues are getting adequate breaks throughout the day, to improve both wellbeing and concentration…

  • Encourage staff to take breaks together. This gives them the chance to get to know each other better and build a good working relationship.
  • Let staff take a break from screens. It’s no good moving away from your emails to just go on social media on your phone – your mind needs the chance to destress.
  • Go outside the office if possible – we’re already too sedentary so a little walk can help. If that’s not possible, then just eating lunch in a canteen or break area is better than a desk lunch.

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