Skipping lunch costs you £31k in unpaid wages

Skipping lunch costs you £31k in unpaid wages

Are you planning on skipping your lunch break today?

Venturing outside to stretch your legs, or nipping out to grab an iced latte, in celebration of the summer heat? Or are you simply too busy, or feel pressured to stay? Apparently, you’re not the only one.

A survey has found that employees work for an extra 7.5 days a year, equating to £31,000 of unpaid work over a career spanning 40 years, due to not taking their lunch break.

According to the survey commissioned by Pulsin, more than a third of its thousands of respondents, consistently work through their lunch breaks –  a high concern as stress is continuously rising within the workplace. With stress accounting for over a third of workplace instances regarding ill health, this research highlights just how significant taking a break is.

Data revealed 39% of workers don’t dine al fresco nor in a local café, but in fact decide to eat their lunch at their desks, with a significantly lower 19% vacating the premises and getting outside.

Approximately £771.55 in wages is lost over a year, the equivalent to a luxury holiday or for some people a month’s rent, resulting in a loss of £30,862 over 40 years of employment, based on the average workers’ earnings of £27,670 prior to tax.

With 57% claiming they were too busy to take a lunch break or alternatively one in 20 feeling pressured to remain at their desks as other employees fail to take their lunch hour, it’s no wonder that 77% of workers experience a mid-afternoon energy slump as employees turn to snacking and quick fixes which cater as convenience food, providing no nutritional benefit.

Commenting on the research, Pulsin's Marketing Manager, Steff Parker, had this to say: “It’s actually quite worrying to find out how often employees skip their lunch breaks, when research has shown time and time again how important it is to have one. What’s more concerning is that when lunch is eaten, it’s often convenience food with little to no nutritional value.”

Recently, HR Grapevine looked into whether or not stress can ever help an employee to perform better. A report from the University of California found that short periods of stress can actually help stimulate cell growth, which in turn results in new brain cells.  After monitoring rats, which were placed in stressful situations, researchers found that a few weeks later their alertness, learning and memory had improved.  

However, that’s not to say that HR should be promoting stress in the office – but rather monitoring how stress affects different employees in different ways. A study from Leadership IQ, titled ‘Does Your Job Require High or Low Emotional Intelligence?’, found that just over half (51%) of employees admit that they always or frequently have to ‘act’ or ‘put on a show’ with their emotions at work. This in turn can lead to anxiety, or at the very least dismay.

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