The lunch hour is at risk of becoming extinct in British workplaces, according to a new survey by Employment Law Advisory Services (ELAS).

It revealed that almost 90 per cent of UK employees no longer take the full time they are allowed for lunch, with 52 per cent taking less than 30 minutes.

Many office workers eat lunch at their desks, which can cause health problems such as indigestion as well as lead to increased levels of stress, the survey found.

ELAS warned that failing to ensure staff take a "decent" mid-day break can have an adverse effect on business as productivity is likely to suffer.

"People whose entire days are spent at their desk cannot really switch off and successive studies such as ours have demonstrated that it can make them less relaxed, more stressed and therefore less able to deliver a good day’s work," explained the firm’s head of consultancy Peter Mooney.

He urged managers to take the lead when it comes to lunch breaks, getting away from their own desks in order to encourage staff members to do the same.

According to the Heath and Safety Executive, workers are entitled to an uninterrupted break of 20 minutes when working more than six hours.