Only a third of SA employees take their full lunch hour

South Africans work two and a half years of overtime by skipping their lunch breaks.

CareerJunction recently conducted a survey in which it explored lunch break habits among the South African workforce. 

The survey, in which over 3,000 people participated, revealed that only a third of South Africans take their full lunch break and another third skips their lunch break altogether at least twice a week.

Odile Badenhorst, CareerJunction’s communications manager, said: 

“The average South African works two-and-a-half years’ overtime during their lifetime due to unused lunch breaks. That amounts to a staggering R512‚465 worth of free work and unnecessary time spent at their desks instead of taking a break.” 

Seven out of ten people skip their lunch break because they have too much work or unexpected work responsibilities and others bring leftovers from home to cut their lunch-costs.

According to the survey, a third of the participants are allowed a 30 minute lunch break, 40 minute breaks are allowed to 7% and more than half of the participants were allowed an hour break. The participants who were smokers, said that they took three to four smoke breaks a day. 

Odile commented:

“Other reasons included having to cover for others, sacrificing lunch breaks to leave work earlier, financial difficulties or simply not caring about lunch.”

The tendence of working through break time was the employee’s own choice and not through their bosses enforcement, however Badenhorst encourages employers to urge regular breaks as it increased productivity, improved mental well-being and boosted creativity. 

He said: 

“In this fast-paced world of work‚ it’s a common‚ and unhealthy‚ mindset that the more hours we work‚ with no break‚ the more we’ll be admired or rewarded.”