Employees at my current job usually take an hour for lunch. Whether it's used to eat lunch, go home and check on kids or walk around is up to the employee. This break isn't written down as a rule in any employee handbook, but everyone takes it myself included.

Occasionally, due to scheduling conflicts, we'll have end up with a staff meeting or other internal meeting during the lunch hour. When this happens my boss will usually buy lunch for the office. I think this is very generous and greatly appreciated, however I realized that by buying us lunch and having meetings at this time we are effectively working through our lunch break.

Usually when this happens I skip my lunch break in response since it seems like the lunch break has been effectively used, but is that necessary?

Does workplace etiquette dictate that I should skip my normal lunch break in this situation?

closed as off-topic by keshlam, gnat, Kent A., Jane S Aug 5 '15 at 0:51

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  • 1
    That's dependent on local company culture, I'm afraid. – keshlam Aug 4 '15 at 18:21
  • Ask your boss or HR department – Jan Doggen Aug 4 '15 at 19:28
  • 1
    @keshlam, more importantly, law. – Thebluefish Aug 4 '15 at 19:54

Depending on your location (among other factors) there is likely to be a "letter of the law" answer and a "rolling with the punches" answer.

In most advanced countries, there is some sort of regulation that requires that employees working a full 8 hour shift get some number of breaks during which they aren't doing any work. There's a good chance that the requirement isn't to provide a full hour for lunch but it's very likely that there is a requirement that you get some amount of time as a legitimate break. So, likely, under the letter of the law, you're free to take whatever statutory break you're entitled to.

On the other hand, enforcing the letter of the law may not be the best way to get along with coworkers and to get ahead in the company. In a good employer/ employee relationship, there is generally a bit of give and take where neither side tries to fully enforce every possible policy every time. Most of the time, the employer doesn't get overly upset if someone comes in a few minutes late or leaves a few minutes early if the job allows. The employer allows you to take a reasonable number of personal calls during work or hit workplace.stackexchange.com when you need a quick break. If your boss is doing his best to avoid scheduling meetings during the lunch hour and compensating you with free food when he or she can't find an alternate time slot and if the rest of your office is treating the meeting as their lunch hour, it's probably best to treat this as the "give" in the "give and take" of a mutually beneficial relationship.


Usually in this kind of environment, you'd be expected to be back at desk by 14:00. More importantly, the mention of "lunch break" may be frown upon so mentioning a quick errant if someone ask may be better perceived.

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