10 Mar Taking a lunch break
It’s been a busy morning; you have not stopped, so you grab a sandwich while you get on with what you are doing. And if it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for your domestic staff: housekeeper, nanny, carer, etc, working for you… Or is it?
Perhaps it’s a trap you fall into occasionally; could it be that your staff see you essentially working through lunch time and feel uncomfortable about taking a proper break and so follow your example? Or possibly you don’t allocate a scheduled lunch break at all for them?
While the issue has not yet raised its head as one suitable for mandatory regulation, that doesn’t mean that it is acceptable, just that it hasn’t come to the foreground yet.
In other parts of the world, for example, our nearest neighbour, France, such behaviour would not be tolerated. It is an accepted principle that everyone needs a proper, scheduled lunch break, preferably away from the work environment, and preferably something more than a hasty sandwich.
In many UK industrial environments, works canteens have provided a solution, but even here, many of these facilities are disappearing.
There is nothing to say that you cannot stagger lunch periods so that while you take a break, staff work, and when you are finished they take their break. Working all day without a lunch break can lead to undue stress. When many domestic situations involve working with dependant people, either children, the infirm or elderly, stress is not something that helps give undivided attention to the tasks in hand, let alone being conducive to creating a sympathetic and empathetic situation.
If you don’t take a proper lunch break, it’s your decision; don‘t decide it for your staff who may simply feel they have to follow your example, not because that is how they wish to work!