Study reveals why Aussie workers work through their lunch breaks

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Work-related Stress
A man covers his face at his desk in an undated file photo. Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

Nearly a quarter of Australian workers power through without a meal break every day, with only 10 percent never working through their break time, new findings show. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they work through lunch for there is simply too much to do.

This is according to a study commissioned by software company TSheets. Workers provided various reasons for skipping their breaks from the need to “brown nose” and not wanting to “feel guilty” to feeling chained to their desks.

Sandy Vo from TSheets talked about the new findings, saying the privilege of a meal break has been “disappearing into more work.” Vo said that employers are responsible for employees’ safety and wellbeing and that ensuring workers have adequate breaks can be beneficial to the business.

Some participants cited their organisation’s culture as a result of working through meal breaks. As for the frequency of requests to work through lunch per week, nearly a quarter of respondents reported being asked daily.

Another 45 percent are asked between two, three and four times weekly or a number of times monthly. Approximately one in 10 has either hardly ever or never got such a request.

The Australian Institute has found that lunch breaks make a worker’s day more enjoyable, leading to a happier and more productive workplace. An employee’s brain can be recharged by taking breaks. Doing so can also relieve stress, boost energy levels and help with digestion, blood pressure and sleep.

The recent survey asked respondents about what they thought about skipping lunch breaks. Half of those who participated said that skipping a lunch or meal break makes them less productive, while 20 percent said it makes them more productive. Thirty percent believe skipping lunch has no effect on their productivity.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions’ Ben Davison said that workers are losing out because employers have too much power. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, he said the poll shows that even lunch breaks are not safe from bosses squeezing down workers conditions.

“One in four people working through their lunch break is just one of the real life impacts of cost cutting, outsourcing and a culture that tells working people if you complain we can always take away your job,” Davison was quoted as saying.