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"Lunch break" redirects here. For lunch breaks at school, see Recess.
Two men taking a break during their workday.

A break at work is a period of time during a shift in which an employee is allowed to take time off from his/her job. There are different types of breaks, and depending on the length and the employer's policies, the break may or may not be paid.

Contents

Types of breaks

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Meal breaks

Meal breaks or lunch breaks usually range from 30 minutes to one hour. Their purpose is to allow the employee to have a meal that is regularly scheduled during the work day. For a typical daytime job, this is lunch, but this may vary for those with other work hours. It is not uncommon for this break to be unpaid, and for the entire work day from start to finish to be longer than the number of hours paid in order to accommodate this time.

According to a study, the amount of time people are taking for lunch breaks in the United States is shrinking, thereby making the term "lunch hour" a myth[1]. Some employers request the lunch to be taken at their work station or not offering lunch breaks at all. Many employees are taking shorter lunch breaks in order to compete with other employees for a better position, and to show their productivity[2].

In some places, such as the state of California, meal breaks are legally mandated.[1] Penalties can be severe for failing to adequately staff one's business premises so that all employees can rotate through their mandatory meal and rest breaks. For example, on April 16, 2007, the Supreme Court of California unanimously affirmed a trial court judgment requiring Kenneth Cole Productions to pay an additional hour of pay for each day that a store manager had been forced to work a nine hour shift without a break.[3]

Restroom/WC breaks

A short break to allow an employee to use a restroom or WC and will generally last less than 10 minutes. Many employers expect their employees to use the facilities during their regularly scheduled breaks and lunches. Denying employees rights to use the facilities as needed could be to the detriment of a worker's health and a potential legal issue.[4] Employers and co-workers often frown on employees who are seen as taking too many of these breaks, and this could be a cause for termination.

Snack breaks

Snack breaks are usually shorter than meal breaks, and allow an employee to have a quick snack, or to accomplish other personal needs. Similar types of breaks include restroom and smoke breaks. These breaks are also required in the state of California; one 10-15 minute break for every 3.5 hours worked. Some employers allow employees to stop their work for short durations at any time to take care of these needs.

Smoking breaks

Many companies in the 21st century don't allow smoking on their property, although some employers allow workers to leave the premises to smoke, and some jurisdictions have laws prohibiting smoking in an enclosed place where others are employed. Smoke breaks can be of different lengths but for the most part are shorter than lunch breaks. Some employers are very strict about smoking. Alaska Airlines, bans smoking and use of tobacco for employees, even outside the workplace. A criticism of smoking breaks is that non smoking employees do not receive the small respite because they simply do not smoke. [5] Stephen Chiverton takes the world's longest smoking breaks and smokes more than he works!

References


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