Employers should encourage their staff to switch off from their work at lunchtime, even if they eat at their desks, it has been suggested.

According to the food and nutrition writer Amanda Grant, it is important that workers take time out to enjoy their lunch.

Speaking on behalf of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, she said employees should eat their lunch with colleagues and discuss issues other than work.

If they insist on eating at their desk, they should use the time to carry out personal tasks such as banking online, checking weather reports and using social networking sites.

According to research published by I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, almost half of British workers regularly eat at their desks.

Two thirds of respondents said they do so because it saves time.

A recent survey by Employment Law Advisory Services found that failure to take lunch breaks can result in increased stress and reduced productivity.