So you're bitching at me because I'm not taking enough breaks?

What the hell? I’m all hopped up on caffeine here, so I ain’t goin’ no where soon. All I do is sit here in front of my PC and fix broke jobs on the mainframe. So taking a break isn’t really gonna do anything for me. Because taking a break in the break room would just be more sitting for me. So when things get slow for me here at work, I can just open up IE and do whatever to keep myself entertained. But my co-worker is saying that I’m not taking long enough breaks, and that I should or I’ll get “burned out”. I’ve been doin’ this for a year now, I’m fine. I get an hour lunch and three 15 min. breaks, but I’m not taking them because I don’t need them. I mean I walk out occasionally for coffee, but I don’t see the big deal. Anybody else get crap because you’re not taking your entitled breaks? Weird.

I take all my breaks and most of yours

Call me old fashioned, but I am one of the “Take your bloody breaks!” faction. Currently at my job people are rushing to lunch break, shovel in their food and leave again, all in 30 minutes. Personally I don’t see how that’s relaxing at all and tend to take at least 45 minutes of a lunch break. When I am done eating, I sit there for a while to digest my food.

I can totally understand a boss, who bitches at his employees to take the breaks, as reducing the time in order to get off a couple of minutes earlier ultimately just hurts productivity.

Where I work, the topic of breaks is the one that spawns the most fights. I can’t figure it out. Everyone is rushing to get out to break earlier than the next employee so that poor person might get stuck covering all by themselves. And there are actually fights over the microwave! Who is gonna get their stuff in first, who made the sauce mess, ewww you just reheated fish, you know, that kind of stuff.

So, to combat this, my boss has taken to assigning breaks to the people in patient care, and if you don’t go on yours when you are supposed to, the next person doesn’t get to go until you come back. I luck out because as part of the administrative staff, we can go whenever we want, or we can eat at our desks. It doesn’t matter.

I once, many years ago, worked as a temp at an office where the staff was unionized. When break time came, a cart would roll around with coffee and stuff and they’d ring a bell and your break was MANDATORY. I thought as a temp they’d excuse me since I didn’t really need a break since my job that day consisted of sitting there waiting for someone’s phone to ring and then telling him who was calling, and then sitting there till it rang the next time an hour or two later, but noooo, the rest of the folks assured me that the union would have my butt if I didn’t stop “working” and take a break with them.

Jeez louise.

Last time I worked at a job where I punched somebody else’s clock (I only punch my own now!), I’d take a break when I felt like it. Nobody cared as long as I did my work whether I took a break or not, whether my lunch hour was 5 minutes or two hours (well, the two-hour variety couldn’t happen TOO often). It was nice to be treated like an adult who knew enough to work when I needed to and relax when I needed to.

Tell your coworker to chill. You’re doing fine.

Sometimes taking breaks can have legal/ financial/ safety implications for your job. Mama Tiger’s union case was a good example. So if your boss tells you to take your breaks, you probably should. It might be their boss or HR is trying to make sure you’re all in compliance with something, and you not taking a break is just causing trouble for the department. Since this is a coworker, you might want to casually ask to see if the boss is really concerned about this, or if it’s just the coworker’s workstyle.

One thought, is the coworker maybe trying to get you to take breaks together to strike up a friendship? Some coworkers are a pain, but it’s often helpful to have a couple casual friends at work.

I had a summer job once in a grocery store, which required me to mostly work unsupervised. It wasn’t what you’d call back-breaking labor, and I wasn’t hungry, so I’d simply work steadily until quitting time.

The manager found out, and had a fit. Turns out that there was some sort of law that demanded that I stop working for a set percentage of the day, but how was I supposed to know that?

Work breaks are mandated by labor law. They are intended to provide relaxation and appropriate diversion from routine job activity. While they obviously permit laborers to get some rest, breaks also serve to redirect mental activity. Disregarding any putative need for socializing at the workplace, diverting your attention from constant focus upon work is beneficial to your mental health.

Since you spend a lot of time at a computer console, PA, it would be very wise of you to take your breaks. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the reward for uninterrupted typing sessions. Eyestrain can also result from paying too much attention to your monitor. Your employer is liable for any injury sustained in the workplace and has every right to insist that you take appropriate breaks.

I’ll also mention how I won the undying loyalty of a work crew I supervised during the restoration of an historic Edwardian residence in San Jose. The workers and laborers were amazed when I would pull the plug on equipment and demand that they take their fifteen minute breaks. I was able to inspire better productivity, performance, attendence and attention to detail for all of the meticulous work being done. The main reason I rigorously enforced the break schedule was to prevent inattention on the job. Bored workers using power tools is a recipe for disaster. I take pride in having a sterling track record when it comes to on-the-job safety.

What was the worst accident during the entire 18 month project?

A splinter.

The summer before I left for college, I was the shift manager of a beauty supply store. Shift manager was a rather grandiose title; it basically meant I had the keys and the alarm code to lock up at the end of the night, and I supervised one other person.

One night we got really, really busy, so I never took my half-hour dinner break. I only had a 5-hour shift that night, so it wasn’t a big deal. We had a line of people down the aisle pretty much all night.

Until they counted up time cards at the end of the week, and I was 15 minutes over 40 hours. Which meant they had to pay me time and a half, at $3.35/hour minimum wage for those extra 15 minutes. The store manager took me in the back room and reamed me out for 20 minutes. I was crying. He was a real asshole. What did it cost him, an extra $0.80 for the joy of making a 17-year-old girl cry because she was just trying to be responsible?