Take a break

06 January 2015 . United Kingdom

  • Less than one in three (29%*) workers take a proper lunch break each day
  • Two in five (43%) employees believe they have too much work to pause for a few minutes
  • Two in five employees respond to work calls (42%) and emails (40%) when taking a breakBupa calls for employers to make 2015 resolutions, encouraging breaks in a bid to boost productivity and wellbeing

Many UK organisations are not enabling staff to take their legally required minimum break, according to new research by Bupa. 

As the nation settles back into work following the holiday period, Bupa calls for businesses to make a fresh start by encouraging employees to take a break.

The study of 2,000 full-time workers finds almost two thirds (64%) claim they are not always able to take their legally required 20-minute break when working six hours or more.

 Not only are these employees putting their health and wellbeing at jeopardy, but they also risk underperforming at work by not taking regular breaks.Less than a third (29%) of employees are taking a full hour for lunch every day and worryingly, over a quarter (28%) of workers never take a breather of any kind during their working day.

Patrick Watt, corporate director at Bupa, comments: “It’s worrying that some employers are not encouraging their staff to take time out of the working day to relax and recharge. Not only does this affect productivity levels, but it can have far wider implications on business performance.

“Taking a proper break helps employees to stay alert, focused, and performing at their peak.

“While we appreciate everyone is very busy, employers should start 2015 as they mean to go on by recognising the importance of taking breaks, leading by example and not letting breaks fall by the wayside.”

The main reason that UK workers are not taking a lunch break is the weight of their workload. 

Bupa’s research shows that two in five (43%) employees believe they have too much work to pause for a few minutes. Managers are also setting a bad example – a quarter (24%) of employees see their boss not taking lunch and feel pressure to do the same.

A working lunch

Many workers who do take lunch are not taking a genuine break from work. The research finds:

  • Almost half of employees rarely use this time to leave the workplace (45%)
  • Almost a third of employees admit they usually eat at their desk (31%)
  • Two in five respond to work calls (42%) and emails (40%)
  • Almost half rarely do something relaxing or rejuvenating (46%).

Yet taking a genuine lunch break is viewed as vital by staff. The majority of workers (52%) claim that missing it puts them in a bad mood, while two in five (40%) believe the lack of a proper break makes them feel unproductive during the afternoon. Worryingly, almost a third (30%) of workers have felt physically ill at work after skipping lunch.


Notes to editor

*2,000 full-time UK workers were independently surveyed in August 2014 by OnePoll.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives. With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

Health insurance accounts for the major part of our business with 17.5m customers and contributes 73% of revenue. We operate clinics, dental centres and hospitals in some markets, with 15.8m customers. We care for around 22,000 residents in our aged care businesses in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Spain.

We directly employ around 83,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Chile, Poland, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Turkey, Brazil, the US, Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

For more information, visit www.bupa.com.