How Some Workers Log 16 Unpaid Days Per Year
August 13, 2012 8:38 am
Lost in the recent Internet buzz about Americans getting only three weeks paid vacation was a sobering reminder: even if we got that paid time off, we still may not use it due to pressure to keep our jobs and stay current with our coworkers.
Last year a survey from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said that 62% of Americans take lunch at their desks to save time and money. If one’s lunch is a standard 60 minute break, that adds up to 128 hours a year, or 16 additional workdays.
Currently only 22 states in the US have meal break laws, as there is no federal law requiring companies to provide a lunch break. But even in those states that graciously allow us to eat, socialize and stretch our legs, the majority of desk job workers regularly forego lunch under pressure to keep their jobs, stay in line with their companies’ culture and be more productive.
Obviously, there is a correlation between desktop dining and eschewing vacation time. But even vacation time is spent working. According to a recent poll cited by AOL Jobs, workers anticipate spending their vacation time:
- Reading work-related emails (reported by 30% of respondents)
- Receiving work-related phone calls (23%)
- Receiving work-related text messages (18%)
- Being asked to do work by a boss, client or colleague (13%)
The pressure to do more to stay afloat has become so pervasive that it’s even a punchline for Applebee’s latest campaign. One of the commercial spots, entitled “Lunch Decoy,” urges workers to inflate a blow-up doppelganger at work to “slip off for the lunch you deserve” (at Applebee’s, natch).
Experts say “an uninterrupted meal break is healthy, increases job efficiency and improves morale, benefiting both employees and their companies.” Surely there must be a better way to show that we want to keep our jobs than sacrificing health, efficiency and morale.
Image from here