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Why you should always take a lunch break, even when you're a limited company contractor

Paystream News

Kerry HUll

Monday 24th Jul, 2017

Do you take a proper lunch break every day, taking the time to eat away from your desk before returning to your work feeling refreshed?

If your answer is 'no', you're not alone, as recent research carried out by Metro Bank revealed that as many as six million UK workers regularly miss their lunch break.

As a result, they could be risking slumps in productivity and may be more likely to forget to eat or opt for an unhealthy choice, which, if done regularly, could risk their long-term health.

How many UK workers actually take a lunch break?

According to the Metro Bank research, around three million UK workers only take one lunch break each week.

Among the workers who do try to have a proper break in the middle of each day, more than (57 per cent) only stay away from their desks for less than half an hour, while 17 per cent just take a 20-minute break. This therefore indicates that very few people are actually taking a daily lunch break.

Over one-third (35 per cent) of survey respondents said they didn't feel as though they had enough time for a lunch break each day, while almost one-quarter (22 per cent) said they preferred to eat lunch at their desk.

Among limited company contractors, freelancers and other self-employed individuals, it was found that more than one million never take a lunch break, with 21 per cent taking 20 minutes.

This is despite many moving to contract work to achieve a better work-life balance. Therefore, failing to take a lunch break on a regular basis could be stopping them from working towards their goal, impacting both their personal and professional lives.

However, contractors and freelancers tended to use their lunch breaks for more physical exercise than office-based workers, with ten per cent taking a walk during their break each day.

Overall, men were found to be more likely to take a lunch break than their female counterparts, with just 15 per cent of males skipping them every day in comparison to 23 per cent of women.

Industry variations were also uncovered in the data, with 53 per cent of manufacturing workers taking five lunch breaks a week, while 27 per cent of healthcare workers carry on working through their breaks most days.

Why lunch breaks are important

Iain Kirkpatrick, Managing Director of Retail Banking at Metro Bank, commented: "Gone are the days when an hour's break was the norm. Although taking time out is essential to a healthy work-life balance, we know that pressures and workloads can often dictate otherwise."

However, there are a whole host of benefits to taking a lunch break of at least 30 minutes away from your desk each day.

Aside from it being a good time to carry out errands or get in a little extra exercise - which can be particularly beneficial for homeworkers who don't have to leave their house each day for a commute - taking the time to eat a proper meal away from your desk can boost both your productivity and your health.

Eating a healthy, balanced meal can help to renew your energy levels ready for the afternoon, leaving you feeling more productive with fresh motivation, preventing any slumps.

Taking a proper break each day can also help to improve your work-life balance, stopping work from taking over your personal life, allowing you to achieve the full benefits of contractor work.

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