Tea breaks; coffee, breaks; smoking breaks; gossip breaks; bathroom breaks… If you’re a manager, it can be difficult keeping track of your team’s break time. This is especially true when everyone likes to swoop in and out of their cubicles for multiple breaks during the day. So, how many breaks are acceptable at work?
Before we jump onto this question, let’s first realize the importance of breaks at work. What happens when you give your mind and body a rest?
Give me a break, will you?
A timely break stop us from getting fatigued and bored by grunt work. Breaks can reduce the negative health effects of a sedentary work lifestyle. Just a 5-minute walk every hour is enough to keep the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes at bay.
Sometimes, a little bit of downtime can also help us replenish our mental resources. Other evidence suggests that regular breaks at work can raise the workers’ level of engagement which, in turn, leads to increased productivity.
What breaks are acceptable at work?
Well, the answer to this question is complicated. To make it brief, it depends on what kind of work you do. If you’re a heavy manual worker, you’ll need more breaks at work than your white-collar counterparts.
Another thing to keep in mind is the break policy written in your employee handbook. Break time policies often vary from one employer to another. Ask HR what breaks are allowed at work.
While you’re at it, you must also look for laws in your state or country. For instance, employers in the US at a federal level are not required to provide breaks to their employees. This, however, does not coincide under California law which states that if you are a non-exempt worker, you are entitled to food and rest breaks – a 30-minute meal break if you work for more than 5 hours in the workday, and no more than 10 minutes break for every 4 hours you work.
Employers are expected to be quite generous in the United Kingdom. Our pals across the ocean are entitled to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during the workday, and if they work more than 6 hours a day.
How many breaks should you take at work?
Let’s say you’re having a particularly bad day at work. You need time to decompress and may resort to a little coffee or smoke break. What do you think is acceptable in this scenario?
How about your roommate is planning a party and wants to discuss the drinks list with you? Taking a lunch break and watching YouTube or Netflix? How about a nap at work? Doing physical exercise as simple as squats or running up the stairs?
In your opinion, what breaks are acceptable at work? We want to hear from you.
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