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In next month I will start a new job in a big corporation as a software developer. It will be three months trial period. I will be employed for full-time (40h in Poland), but few days ago I acknowledge that my job will require nine hours each day in a workplace as there is mandatory one hour non-paid lunch-break. This was never the case in my previous jobs in the small and mid-sized enterprises I worked for, I always had about half hours for lunch during my normal working hours.

This situation makes me quite angry as from my point of view I will be working about 20 hours monthly being unpaid. I would probably have declined this job offer in the first place if I would know about this extra hour earlier. I study in my free time and if I spend 10 hours at work (one hour for commute) I'd be too tired to take additional classes after that.

I'm not sure how to handle this situation properly. Should I talk about that with my manager (what should I suggest in that case?) after starting my trial period or should I just start looking for new job (should I do that immediately or after some time)?

Bottom line is: if I had stayed in my foregoing work and start working 9 hours daily (lunch-time included) I would have earn ~20 percent more (9th hour would be overhour, paid with 50% bonus). In my new job I will be earning ~10 percent more than now. So this unpaid lunch hour doesn't sound like good deal for me.

closed as off-topic by Masked Man, Alec, Jim G., ChrisF, mcknz Aug 28 '15 at 20:30

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  • 1
    I guess it's more a personal thing. In Finland, most IT guys say they work 40 hours per week, but the real amount is 37,5 hours with the extra 2,5 hours being the daily 30 minute lunch breaks. Since that time is invariably spent at the office restaurant talking about work, everyone counts it as a "working hour". – Juha Untinen Aug 16 '15 at 22:08
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    Software development is normally salaried being paid by the hour is unusual and an Hour for lunch is the norm in Europe – Pepone Aug 16 '15 at 22:26
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    At least in Germany this wouldn't be company policies but the law that requires you tale take mandatory breaks depending on your hours worked that day. It's to protect you so that you don't have to work all day. In my personal experience the best thing to do is and go out for lunch with colleagues. Otherwise you'll end up eating a sand which at your desk and continue working. This only applies for white collar jobs. When I worked construction it was self explaining that no one would think of working through the break since you needed that time off. – idkfa Aug 17 '15 at 9:54
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    @idkfa In the US there are some jurisdictions (California) where some companies make it a fireable offense for not taking your break due to regulations. I would not be supprised if local regulations are the reason for the required break. – RubberChickenLeader Aug 17 '15 at 13:37
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    I think you're likely to find that official policies aren't very well adhered to in most places. So for instance, in the place where I was supposed to take a 1 hour lunch, we were supposed to also charge accurately to specific projects, but people would stand around and talk about their vacation for an hour--I never asked what project that was charged to, but they certainly left on time. – Amy Blankenship Aug 17 '15 at 17:11
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During that lunch hour, will you be expected to work (ie have a sandwich at your desk while you continue to work on your current project) or is it your time (you can go for a walk, chat, check news websites etc?)

If it's work, then yes, this seems like the deal you got is not as good as you hoped.

In reality, while some companies have a culture of working over your lunch break, the situation you are describing is the norm in my experience working with many large corporates: it's your time, you can do whatever you want with it, and you don't get paid for it.

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    This is likely due to interpretation of labor laws. When employees create a culture of working through lunch (albeit paid) then it become company policy that there is no breaks. This creates exposure for the company and opens them up to potential legal action from someone who takes issue. I started seeing this in larger companies over 15 years ago. Take a lunch break, it's good for you. Take a walk, read some reddit, a book. I used to play spades with my coworkers. – Bill Leeper Aug 17 '15 at 15:12
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Why would you work during your lunch break? The purpose of a lunch break is to take a break from work. Why not study for your classes then? Or take a walk? I think you will find you are less tired at the end of the day if you take that one hour break.

  • For people with pets or small children, it really is an imposition to ask them to do this, especially if they have a long commute. I used to have a job that required this and if I'd complied it meant my dogs would have been crossing their legs for 11 or more hours a day. HR made sporadic efforts to get me to stop taking my lunch break at 4, but since I performed well my boss was never going to support them. – Amy Blankenship Aug 17 '15 at 16:09
  • To clarify: lunch breaks are great. But in my case in my previous jobs (in three different places) it was a standard to have 30 minutes lunch break during working hours – pstrag Aug 17 '15 at 17:02
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    @pstrag so it's different, but the point is that from what you're saying it's not necessarily worse. Study over lunch instead of after work, done! What's the real problem it creates for you? – mxyzplk Aug 19 '15 at 3:20
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I think the bigger question than; 'whether you should look for another job' or 'talk to your manager' is actually to ask yourself why you wanted to change jobs in the first place! Only then could we answer you.

If you were simply looking to earn more money in a given year, then you are going about things correctly by calculating your hours. You sound like a senior dev and you are changing location, so I assume you have other considerations than that though...

If you are changing products / industries / company culture / team dynamic / position / seniority / career trajectory / better peers / better brand / new tech stack / training / etc, then I don't know if the tiny amount of unpaid work is really much of an issue?

Two observations from Australia (which I accept may be very different) - even in the best companies which advocate work-life balance, I doubt there are many people who clock-watch about how many hours they are working. I would say a majority of workers in Software and finance work between 4-10 hours extra per week - salaried workers accept this - while a lot of people who are strongly motivated by money may choose to do contract work. In Australia, this often means a higher hourly / daily pay, but with shorter term assignments from weeks to 12 months and less benefits and job security.

The second observation is that while remuneration is important and I wouldn't work for free, it is very rarely one of the top considerations - so I would definitely recommend NOT bringing up your lunch query with a future boss, I think it will make you sound as you have priorities in the wrong direction.

  • So I change a work because I want to see how it is to work in a big company/corporations. And everyone who I talk about that said that in corporation you cannot wear t-shirt and you need follow sometimes some stupid rules, but they will pay much more than in a small firm/startup with more flexible rules. So it's not only a money, but money also counts for me. – pstrag Aug 17 '15 at 17:06

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