Honey, I shrunk the lunch hour

Jul 15 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Our lunch breaks are getting shorter. The average Briton takes just 27 minutes a day away from their desk, a fall of almost ten minutes in the last four years.

The 10th annual Lunchtime Report by catering firm Eurest has found that the average lunch break has dropped from 36 minutes in 2000, with one in five employees never taking a lunch break at all.

The survey of 2,000 workers also found that women take even less time off than average, with one in four never taking a break and those that do taking only 25 minutes.

And underlining just how far long hours and job insecurity have affected the pattern of working life, only one in five of those surveyed take regularly take a full hour off at lunchtime.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said that the survey underlined the imbalance caused by Britainís overwork culture.

"Workers who don't take long enough breaks risk damaging their health, and employees who don't get away from their desks at lunchtime are not going to be very productive in the afternoon,Ē he said.

"Employers need to do more to make sure their staff are not so overburdened that they feel unable to leave the office for more than a few minutes.

"Overworked employees who don't get to take decent breaks are not a business asset. They are positively bad for business."

Alternatively, as one comment left on the BBCís website said: "One reason people stay at their desks over lunch is that they are reading about the latest survey on the internet.Ē