This Is Why You Should Use Your Breaks At Work

Posted on written by Sam Barton

How many people take an actual break at work?

We don’t mean looking up from your computer for 30 seconds while you discuss the football or what you were watching on TV last night. We mean getting away from your desk or where you work and completely switching off from your job for a short period of time.

Taking an actual break throughout the day can have benefits not just for your health but also for your performance too.

In this weeks’ blog we are going to look at what the law says about breaks at work and whether or not taking a break positively impacts your health and productivity.

Do you have a legal right to a break?

In the UK an employer is legally required to allow one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break if an employee is working more than 6 hours per day.

This break doesn’t have to be paid. There is no legal obligation for an employer to pay you for this break and it really comes down to your employment contract. There is also a provision that gives workers the right to a break if their health and safety is a risk. This can mean employees who engage in very repetitive or monotonous work.

There are some exemptions to the rights of employee’s to take breaks at work and there are different rules for young workers (16-18 years old) and those who drive for a living.

Breaks can have health benefits

One study showed that taking a break at work can have wide ranging health benefits for employees.

This includes re-energising your mind, reducing the risk of burnout and exhaustion both physically and mentally and it has also been shown to contribute a better job satisfaction.

In fact, other studies have shown that breaks can help to improve memory, prevent decision fatigue and also contribute to better physical health. 

Will your productivity increase?

While taking breaks is important for health and safety as well as ensuring that you don’t suffer physical or mental fatigue – does it help with your productivity?

Using a positive cycle of work/rest is important in any profession. Ensuring that you take an appropriate break(s) throughout the day will give you mind time to refocus and it should increase the amount of work that you do.

Avoid things like eating lunch at your desk or failing to take your allotted break. It will result in mental and/or physical fatigue that will make you less productive and unable to focus on your tasks.

Using your breaks at work

Workplace stress is a major problem in the UK however, taking the break that you are entitled to can have a big impact on reducing this level of strain on your mind and on your body.

From a health and safety point of view it not only protects yourself against fatigue but, depending on your occupation, it will keep others safe around you too.

Blog - Why you should use your breaks at work. Man on sofa cartoon. IOSH courses.

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