How long should an employee’s lunch break be?

Government advice states that workers have the right to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during their working day if they work more than six hours per day.

However, for most office employees, this is their lunch break entitlement. 

As a result, more than one in 10 of the nation’s office workers regularly skip lunch, as they do not have enough time to purchase food within their lunch break allowance, a new survey from Just Eat for Business reveals.

This is concerning, given that the survey also found a further fifth (19%) of office workers do not have the energy or motivation to make themselves a packed lunch before they get to work: eating out is their only way to get food during the working week.


The consequences of skipping meals 

Skipping meals is linked to various mental and physical side effects, including weight gain, fatigue, low mood, mood swings and dizziness, according to the NHS.

From a business perspective, lunch breaks are important for employees to rest and reset during the working day, and effects productivity and motivation throughout the afternoon.


What do employees want? Would a longer lunch break be enough?

And time constraints are not the only thing office workers wish they could change about their lunch break.

A third (31%) wish the food they had access to at work was cheaper, whilst over a quarter (27%) wish their lunch was healthier. 

Tom Baxter, Account Management Director at Just Eat for Business, commented on the findings: “It’s not recommended that people skip lunch, as it’s important to fuel ourselves during the working day – and it’s particularly sad that many feel they have to do so due to time constraints.”

“If employers are unable to extend lunch breaks, they need to make sure that their employees are able to eat regularly, and well. A good way to do this is to schedule catered lunch breaks that can be enjoyed amongst team members, as this promotes a social atmosphere – and makes sure everyone has time to rest and refuel at work.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.