The human mind and body is not designed to work for a straight eight hours or more without a rest, and yet millions of people across the United States are finding themselves unable to take the meal break regulated by many federal and state laws, including in Kentucky. Even though the body will wear itself down without proper breaks, workers are feeling forced to stay at their desks to eat or to skip lunch altogether. If you need numbers, one survey found that 65 percent of the workforce eats at their desks or does not take a break at all. Around 33 percent said that they still take a break.
The economy has created an unhealthy workplace environment where the tasks keep building while staff numbers decrease. This means that fewer workers are required to shoulder more work now than ever.
Even professionals who once entertained clients or associates during the lunch hour have relegated themselves to their offices in an attempt to increase the amount of work they can get done in the same amount of time. Many employees are sneaking away only long enough to purchase fast food when they used to have a sense of camaraderie with their co-works as they met up for a mental or physical break at a local eatery.
Even restaurants are noticing a decrease in the amount of business they get during the lunch hour. Fewer and fewer patrons are coming through the doors to sit down and eat, but take-out is becoming increasingly more popular. Restaurant owners said that individuals are not even taking a long enough break to order and wait; the orders are being placed while the customer is still in the office or in the car on the way over.
Your body needs a break which is why the Fair Labor Standards Act regulates meal and rest breaks. If your employer forces you to work through your lunch break or you feel pressed to do so because of the amount of work you have to do, you may have a wage and hour claim.
Source: USA Today, "More workers work through lunch or eat at their desks," Larry Muhammad, April 13, 2012