Lunch Break? What Lunch Break?
2 months ago
Can anything be done about the increasing number of workers who dine at their desk?
Can we meet for a mid-afternoon meal one of these weekdays? More and more, this well-meaning question has to be met with an emphatic “no.” According to an online survey conducted by Right Management (part of big staffing company ManpowerGroup) last year, around 65% of American wage earners habitually or often lunch at their desks or, worse, take no break from work at all.
This rise in “desk lunching” is due to numerous factors. The biggest finger of blame, as with so many other issues in our society, is the current state of the American economy. Although we’ve pulled out of the Great Recession, the recovery has been sluggish. As such, employers have been wary to hire more workers (which is why our unemployment rate is significantly higher than during the pre-recession period).
Because of that, there is less manpower to do the same or a greater amount of work. The end result is a more stressed employee with much less time to perform his or her job. Hence the in-house lunch break … that is, if said employee even has the time to take a break in the first place.
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Labor laws in many states actually prohibit this practice by mandating a certain amount of break time for workers. California, for example, legislates a half-hour of free time on the basis of a work day lasting five hours or more. Further, what it terms “on-duty” meal periods (i.e. desk lunches) are “counted as time worked and permitted only when nature of work prevents relief from all duties and there is written agreement between parties.”