A survey of thousands of members of the British public has found that employees work an average of seven and a quarter extra unpaid days every year by not taking their lunch breaks. In response, an online calculator has been created where members of the public can input their number of skipped lunch breaks to see how much unpaid overtime they’ve done in the last year.
Employees work an extra seven and a quarter unpaid days on average every year thanks to skipped lunch breaks, according to a survey of thousands of people across the UK.
Commissioned by protein powder and snack bar brand Pulsin, the survey found that more than a third (36%) of workers regularly work through their lunch break. The figures mean workers are losing out on £771.55 in wages over a year, based on the average salary of £27,670 before tax. Over a 40-year career, that’s £30,862 of unpaid work.
When asked why, 57% answered they were too busy, but more than one in 20 said it was because colleagues don’t take theirs and they felt pressured to stay. Not everyone misses out, though, as 15% of workers said they skip or shorten their lunch break in order to leave work earlier at the end of the day.
Nearly two fifths (39%) of employees said they regularly eat lunch at their desks, with only one in five (19%) saying they leave the office and get outside. More than three quarters (77%) of workers experience a mid-afternoon energy slump that leaves them reaching for sugary snacks to boost productivity.
In response to the survey results, Pulsin has created an onsite calculator where members of the public can enter in how many times a week they skip a lunch break, to find out how much they should have been paid based on the average British salary.
The unpaid lunchtime hours calculator can be accessed here: https://www.pulsin.co.uk/blog/general/unpaid-lunchtime-hours-calculator/
According to the British government, employees who work more than six hours a day are entitled to one uninterrupted twenty minute break. Employers are not obliged to pay for employee breaks, unless stated otherwise in their contract**.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied the effect regular breaks had on productivity and discovered that taking regular breaks improved mental stamina***.
Steff Parker, marketing manager at Pulsin, said,
“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. Here at Pulsin, we want to give people the option of eating wholesome snacks when life gets busy so they can carry on with their day’s work without the worry of being interrupted by the dreaded mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump!
“I think we’re all guilty of getting bogged down at work but lunch breaks are something that has to be a priority in the workplace, for productivity and wellness reasons. Hopefully the calculator will highlight to workers just how much valuable time they lose and encourage them to take their well-earned break and eat a healthy lunch to rebalance themselves for a productive afternoon.”