The hefty price you pay for skipping your lunch break

The hefty price you pay for skipping your lunch break

One third of UK employees admit to never leaving their work station after they arrive in the morning, a new report from totaljobs has found.

After surveying 7,135 workers, the study found that over half do not take a lunch break, even though many of them feel encouraged to do so. So, what is instilling this worrying practice in UK offices? 68% of those surveyed claimed that they simply don’t have enough time to take a lunch break, with 56% admitting that they never take time out to eat away from their desks.

“The research we have released today highlights the staggering amount of unpaid lunchtime work the average worker will carry out during the course of their career,” said David Clift, HR Director at totaljobs.

The average worker takes just 27 minutes out of an allowed 40 for lunch, costing them £33,264 in untaken time owed over the course of a career, the report adds. Compounding this, an employee who smokes will, on average, take three extra breaks a day – with many colleagues taking issue with the notion they “shouldn’t have extra breaks just because they smoke.”

Looking to those workers partial to a tipple or two, drinkers overcompensate for their lack of lunch breaks throughout the week. The average UK worker drinks six units of alcohol per week during their lunch breaks – comparable to two large glasses of wine or two pints.

Over half of workers aged between 16 and 24 take their lunch breaks, compared to just 38% of workers aged between 55 and 64. Of those employees that did skip lunch, 30% aged 35 to 44 did so more than once a week, compared with 20% of 16 to 24 year olds.

“We understand workers feel under pressure and are competitive with their colleagues, but it is alarming to see how everyday the culture of working through lunch has become in this country,” explained Clift.

“Taking time to move away from your workstation has many proven benefits and can allow workers to return back to work refreshed and reinvigorated for the second half of the day. One encouragement is that this culture is largely coming from employees themselves rather than being enforced by employers. That said, we would call on employers to encourage their staff to take regular breaks away from their workstation and to reap the benefits that come from this.”

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