Forced Lunch Break



  • I'm working for a place that is attempting to force salaried employees to take 1 hour lunch breaks.  In other words, you must stay at work in the office for 9 hours per day.  Working through lunch and leaving after 8 hours of work is no longer an option.  Personally I find this objectionable since I would rather eat my packed lunch in 5 minutes and leave an hour earlier so that I can beat the bad traffic and actually get home to my wife and kids about 90 minutes earlier.  Have any of you worked at a place where they try to enforce this type of thing on adults?  If so, how did you handle it?  My team ranges in age from 26 to 46 year olds, they have from 5 to over 15 years experience, and all make salaries from slightly below 100K/yr to over 100K/yr.  Everyone is riled up feeling that we are being treated like children or that "The Man" is trying to control us or keep us down.

    For those of you thinking that only being in the office 9 hours a day for a salaried employee is cake this doesn't include time spent assisting customers remotely from home after hours, on weekends, and during on-call duty in the middle of the night.  None of which is compensated in any way.  So, this new forced lunch break could be viewed as the straw that broke the camels back.

    Share your thoughts please.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

     Is ignoring it a possibility? Possibly taking that lunch break at the end of the day?



  • Where are you? Is this a normal thing in your city/state/country/planet or is it as weird as it sounds to me?



  • @Rob Graves said:

    I'm working for a place that is attempting to force salaried employees to take 1 hour lunch breaks.
     

    I've worked at customer sites where they stipulate the hours of the work day but this tends to make sense as you need to be there when they are.

    We are the other way in the office... As long as you get your work done the managers take a flexible view on when people start, finish and eat. 

    Mandating this stuff to this degree would be unproductive in my book.  If the boss forces me to stay until 6pm every day then he has zero chance of getting me to work until 6:01pm on the day all hell breaks loose.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Rob Graves said:

    this doesn't include time spent assisting customers remotely from home after hours, on weekends, and during on-call duty in the middle of the night.  None of which is compensated in any way.
    Is any of that in your contract? (In fact are your hours of work in your contract?)



    I'd possibly suggest 'work to rule' (including not doing anything work related during your lunch hour - be OOO if necessary,) and, probably, start looking for something elsewhere.



  • @Rob Graves said:

    all make salaries from slightly below 100K/yr to over 100K/yr
    100K what? american dollars? euros? yen? monopoly money?

     

    I spend 8 hours a day at work 5 days a week, no more no less. It's the best balance I could find. Unless it's a real emergency I don't work beyond that. My boss wasn't happy about it, but then again he often has the tendency to waste my time on crap and then expect me to work overtime to keep up. If I had to work overtime because I can't do my job during normal business hours I would have left years ago.

     

     


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @DOA said:

    100K what? american dollars? euros? yen? monopoly money?
    Pesos?
    Timezone: -6.00 GMT



  • Work from home?



  • I have 8 paid hours a day, with half an hour break in between. So my day basically ends at 17:30, and then I usually stay a bit longer to just finish up that method, or fix that one issue; just so I don't keep things hanging overnight.

    Since that often leaves me going home aroun 18:00, I'm effectively in the same situation.

    But I'm okay with that, because nothing's "enforced".



  • I'm wondering if it's some kind of stupid labor law or something. In many places they require employers to not only allow employees to take an hour break for 6+ hour shifts, but demand employees take advantage of the break. If the employees are even voluntarily refraining from taking a break, then the office will be deemed a sweatshop. As far as I can tell in my state, anyway, they only enforce it if the employer is a sweatshop and got formal complaints from employees who were refused a break and chained to their desk, but technically speaking, employees are still obliged to take an hour break for any shift longer than 6-7 hours.



  • The way I typically hear it worded is "HR would prefer that we take at least 30 minutes for lunch" which is nice since I sometimes work through lunch, sometimes take a 1 hour (or in rare cases a 90-minute) lunch, and typically take a 30 minute lunch.

    If you need a good excuse to work through lunch, use the excuse that you're working on something.  This is just how IT works; if you are busy working on a bit of code and interrupt your thought process just to take a 30-minute break, it will take another 30 minutes after just to reach the same work pace.  That's 30 minutes of wasted time, and wasted time is wasted money.



  • I'm in the same situation--we just got word that not only are they going to require an hour-long lunch break, they're moving us from flex-time to fixed hours of 8:30 - 17:30, effective Monday 2011-02-14.  This appears to be just my team, not the company generally, so my finger's currently pointed at the new project manager as being behind it.

    I intend to ramp up the job search--I was already looking, I'm just going to get a little more serious about it, is all.

    Plus, if they're not willing to be flexible to help me out (I come in early to avoid traffic), I don't consider it at all unreasonable for me to stop being flexible to help them out.  So starting Monday, my working hours and lunch hour are fixed and non-negotiable: I do no work before 8:30, or after 17:30, or during my lunch hour, and all meeting requests that overlap those times that I haven't already accepted will be rejected... automatically, if I can arrange it.



  • @RHuckster said:

    I'm wondering if it's some kind of stupid labor law or something. In many places they require employers to not only allow employees to take an hour break for 6+ hour shifts, but demand employees take advantage of the break. If the employees are even voluntarily refraining from taking a break, then the office will be deemed a sweatshop. As far as I can tell in my state, anyway, they only enforce it if the employer is a sweatshop and got formal complaints from employees who were refused a break and chained to their desk, but technically speaking, employees are still obliged to take an hour break for any shift longer than 6-7 hours.

    It's really hard to give any sort of meaningful advice or even talk about this topic without knowing what labor laws/contract he's working under. Or how much money "100k" is, as DOA mentioned.



  • @Rob Graves said:

    Share your thoughts please.

    SOmetimes a lunch break is good for you. It helps you clear your thoughts and focus on other problems in life. Paying bills, buying gifts for your wife and kids etc. If you finish your lunch in 5 minutes, a good idea would be to go out for a walk. This will help you relieve stress and improve health.

    Look at it in a positive fashion, instead of thinking that "The Man" is trying to stick it to you.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Nagesh said:

    @Rob Graves said:

    Share your thoughts please.

    SOmetimes a lunch break is good for you.

    If that's the only break you get from your desk, it probably is.@Nagesh said:
    It helps you clear your thoughts and focus on other problems in life.
    If you have insufficient time in the rest of your non-work life that you're relying on your lunch break to make up for it, you have bigger problems that you cannot see. @Nagesh said:
    Paying bills, buying gifts for your wife and kids etc.
    Those are the last things I'd be doing on my lunch break (should I take one.) I note, however, there is a cultural difference.


  • I am glad that you are now opening up to accept the cultural difference.



  • @Nagesh said:

    SOmetimes a lunch break is good for you. It helps you clear your thoughts and focus on other problems in life. Paying bills, buying gifts for your wife and kids etc. If you finish your lunch in 5 minutes, a good idea would be to go out for a walk. This will help you relieve stress and improve health.

    Look at it in a positive fashion, instead of thinking that "The Man" is trying to stick it to you.

     

    I somewhat agree with this. I find taking a break in the middle of the day lowers my stress level. However, there are other days where I'm 105% in the zone and simply do not want to be interrupted by anything that would break my concentration. There are yet other days when I want or need to leave a little bit earlier in the day. The point is, it really should be up to the worker when and if they take an hour break.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Nagesh said:

    I am glad that you are now opening up to accept the cultural difference.
    This forum is mainly frequented by westerni[s|z]ed people who have little sympathy with the general situation within the industry with regard to those working in India. Indeed, the site makes fun of code coming out of there.



    However, with the extra information now confirmed/available, I can probably say (with utmost certainty) that you must take your lunch breaks at the prescribed times. You have no option (unless you wish no further employment in the computer industry in your country.)



    Most of the rest of this thread will probably espouse (and be denigratory) on the differences between (western) software engineers' experiences between dealing 'in country' and 'off-shoring.'



    It will not be pretty if it does. (And H1-B doesn't even affect me.)


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @RHuckster said:

    I find taking a break in the middle of the day lowers my stress level
    I find (at random times) "I'm going out for a ciggarette[1][2] - anyone coming?" serves much the same purpose. Much shorter than lunch and 'eating midday meal' still takes less than 10 minutes whether you smoke or not.





    [2] Note that not all acceptees smoke.

    [1] 'fag' for en_UK. WTF is it with the US that 'fag' is exclusively 'non-catholic who abuses non-kids that are male.'?



  • @PJH said:

    [1] 'fag' for en_UK. WTF is it with the US that 'fag' is exclusively 'non-catholic who abuses non-kids that are male.'?

    That's not even close to what the US version of the word means.



  • @Weng said:

     Is ignoring it a possibility? Possibly taking that lunch break at the end of the day?

     They explicately stated that we can't take the break during the first or last hour.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Where are you? Is this a normal thing in your city/state/country/planet or is it as weird as it sounds to me?

    I'm in Houston, TX and upper management is in Dallas, TX.  This is not normal.  I've worked as a database admin in Houston for over 15 years and have never heard of such a thing for salaried <FONT size=-1 face=arial>professionals </FONT>until faced with it now.



  • Thanks for the thoughts people.  I'm going to address some points made across several replies.

    First, I like to take a lunch break when I feel like it.  I go eat with co-workers or alone as the mood strikes me.  If I pack my lunch and eat it fast, while working, I still take a break or two during the day.  I'll walk to the bank or to the coffee shop.  But I take my breaks when it is convenient for me.

    Some mentioned the money.  It is USD.  The team I work on is a pretty skilled bunch of guys.  None are top tier but all are a long way from first level tech support.  I mentioned the pay scale, age, and years of experience simply to show that we are not talking about people who are beginners but those who have a lot of existing knowledge along with the desire to learn more and apply it.  Everyone feels like they are being treated like 5 year olds and/or stupid.

    The part that bothers me is being forced to take the lunch break combined with all of the other changes.  No more comp time for work done after hours, weekends, patching duty, or while doing on-call duty.  Since our jobs involve operational support and no customers want down time during the middle of the day there is work to do "after hours" all of the time.

    Someone mentioned this policy possibly hurting productivity.  That has been the case so far.  Everyone has taken to turning of the cell phones if they choose to take the lunch.  No-one is staying even one minute after their allotted 9 hour shift if they are even respecting the rule at all.  Today I had team members just saying, "eff it" and leaving from 2 to 4.  When I left at 4, instead of 5 like they want, I was the last person there.  Plus, I'd guess that each team member spent from 1/2 to 2 hours complaining about it today.

    Someone mentioned working from home.  I wish.  Needless to say though that a company that wants to control your lunch hour isn't about to let anyone work from home.

    Someone mentioned looking for work elsewhere.  That is in the works but most of the team is paid well enough that finding an equivalent paying job is not easy.

    Finally, someone said something about having much deeper problems if I can't spare an hour for lunch.  That isn't the issue at all.  I'm a family man and want to have time to spend with my kids helping them with their homework, playing games, just hanging out, or whatever.  It comes down to feeling like they are taking an hour a day from my life and from my families life for no good reason.  I don't see how this policy helps the company I work for, our customers, the employees, or anyone.

    To me it seems like a senseless WTF which is why I thought about posting it here.



  • @PJH said:

    [1] 'fag' for en_UK. WTF is it with the US that 'fag' is exclusively 'non-catholic who abuses non-kids that are male.'?
     

    Fag is an old guy who yells at small boys? I have no idea where you got this.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    @PJH said:
    [1] 'fag' for en_UK. WTF is it with the US that 'fag' is exclusively 'non-catholic who abuses non-kids that are male.'?

    That's not even close to what the US version of the word means.

    So it doesn't exclusively mean "homosexual" in the US then? That is, indeed, news to me. I await the non-amused looks when I mention I'm "going for a fag" next time I'm there.



  • @PJH said:

    So it doesn't exclusively mean "homosexual" in the US then?
     

    You stupid cigarette!

    A homosexual is not a non-catholic who abuses male non-kids. There's no abuse and it's not related to religion (well, other than that all major religions forbid it) I'm afraid that bit of clever wit appears to have taken a detour somewhere and got lost. :</p>

    So yeah, it's a derogatory term for homosexual men, and recently expanded its meaning to being a general derogatory term, much to the chagrin of homosexuals and homo-advocates, who feel that homosexuality has become unfairly associated with negative concepts or behaviour.

     

    Sorry if I'm saying things you already know, but right now I'm experiencing some confusion about what you do or do not know.



  • @PJH said:

    So it doesn't exclusively mean "homosexual" in the US then?

    Mostly, but that's not what you said. In your warped little mind, is it impossible for Catholics to be homosexual? Or is it impossible for homosexuals to abuse kids? (Sad as it is, that's actually rather common here in the real world.)

    @PJH said:

    I await the non-amused looks when I mention I'm "going for a fag" next time I'm there.

    Unless you're going to South Carolina, Americans aren't fucking retarded. We'll all know what you mean. Christ.

    You can never forget how smug and douchey Europeans are for long, can you? They always have to remind you.



  • Looks like this thread has completely derailed. :(



  • @Nagesh said:

    Looks like this thread has completely derailed. :(
     

    I think it took longer than normal this time.



  • @PJH said:

    @Nagesh said:
    I am glad that you are now opening up to accept the cultural difference.
    This forum is mainly frequented by westerni[s|z]ed people who have little sympathy with the general situation within the industry with regard to those working in India. Indeed, the site makes fun of code coming out of there.



    However, with the extra information now confirmed/available, I can probably say (with utmost certainty) that you must take your lunch breaks at the prescribed times. You have no option (unless you wish no further employment in the computer industry in your country.)



    Most of the rest of this thread will probably espouse (and be denigratory) on the differences between (western) software engineers' experiences between dealing 'in country' and 'off-shoring.'



    It will not be pretty if it does. (And H1-B doesn't even affect me.)

    H1-B doesn't affect me either. I work in a offshroe team. Personally I think BRIC is growing, but AMerica still largest economy in the world.
    So everyone in Hyderabad want to come to USA. In some circle in Hyd, they say "USA" now stand for "United States of ANdhra Pradesh".

    Andhra Pradesh is state for Hyderabad city. I find it ludicrous.



  • @PJH said:

    WTF is it with the US that 'fag' is exclusively 'non-catholic who abuses non-kids that are male.'?

     

    that's a non-succint, non-standard, non-inclusive way of saying it.



  • This sounds like my current employer. I am a salaried employee who works 8 hour days with a 45 minute unpaid lunch. I am supposed leave 8 hours and 45 minutes after I arrive. Although sometimes do have the flexibility of time, including going home early and making up time at work. What I am not allowed to do is skip lunch and leave after 8 hours.

    I work in the northeast United States. This rule seems odd to me, but I've been with this company 12 years. I get 8 holidays plus 25 days of PTO, which is nothing to sneeze at. But this 8:45 thing is a little weird...


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