So I work in an organization where we record our time spent at work in a program called "time management system", for the most part its pretty relaxed (it gets approved by your manager and what not). This is my first ever corporate job, I'm an entry level "software engineer".

So I recently had a lunch meeting at a cafe. After finishing the food we continued to discuss work related topics on my colleagues iPad for an additional half hour. My question is, at what point does lunch become a regular meeting? Or is the whole lunch meeting just considered lunch? If we didn't have to record our time at work and time on breaks this wouldn't really be an issue but since we do I am unsure.

  • 3
    The second you start talking about work, it's pretty much work-related. The second you stop talking or working at work, it's "recreation". Why are they different?
    – insidesin
    Sep 27, 2017 at 1:48
  • What level of granularity are you required to enter your worked time to? That is, do you have to break your time down by the day, half day, hour, quarter hour, five minutes?
    – AakashM
    Sep 27, 2017 at 7:59
  • Where are you located? Some laws require some sort of lunch break, which would then need to be reflected in your timesheet.
    – David K
    Sep 27, 2017 at 11:58

6 Answers 6


Best to ask this internally, as every company has really it´s own take on this topic. As your company seems to like to have a pretty tight control over these matters, probably best to get an "official" opinion about this. If you don´t want to seem petty, you could just book it as break and ask your boss how such things should be handled in the future.

You could also just discuss with your colleagues how they handle such things, although they might not actually follow company policy there.

Last, I encourage you, whatever the answer is at your place, just follow it. Some timekeeping-practices seem a little bit unfair, but usually they are not worth making a big fuss about, as the impact on your life is probably minimal. And when you are not nitpicking about every minute you worked, you can maybe get some flexibility where you really need it (important private phone call during the day etc.)


at what point does lunch become a regular meeting? Or is the whole lunch meeting just considered lunch? If we didn't have to record our time at work and time on breaks this wouldn't really be an issue but since we do I am unsure.

Every company has different policies regarding what must be recorded and in which categories time is recorded.

If neither you nor your colleague know how to categorize this time, ask someone who does - that might be your manager, or someone else responsible for timekeeping.

Some companies use this time to charge external clients for projects and have contractual rules surrounding time recording. Some use this time to input into payroll. Some companies do both.

In my most recent shop, it seldom mattered how your time was recorded, as long as it added up to 40 hours per week. In other shops where I worked, time recorded against specific projects was very precious and they worried about every 30 minutes. In most shops where I worked, lunch time would never be recorded, even if you talked about work or actually performed work.

Don't overthink things. I'm not saying any of this makes sense, or that any of this will amount to a sensible ledger of time spent. Just that every company defines their rules differently, and you will have to ask until you have learned them.

Every timekeeping system has ambiguities (what if you think about work while you are eating alone? What if you spend only 10 minutes talking about work and the rest eating? What if you talk about projects that don't have accounting codes assigned yet?). You just need to learn how your management wants you to handle these situations. I don't see a lot of commonality across companies.


First you are entitled to your lunch break, unless it was mandated that you have this meeting over lunch then you did so because it convenient to you. There is nothing wrong with that but your employer is not responsible for that choice.

In most workplace cultures it is perfectly acceptable to say something like, "I prefer not to discuss work during my meal break." And if it is just one of those days and you need the time to decompress, it is acceptable to say that too.

So if you logging this lunch break as work time, will cost your company money(IE they have to pay you for it) then it is not appropriate unless you get permission from your manager.

If your company would bill those hours to someone else, it may be expected that you would enter it as billable hours, but you should confirm that with your manager, and not just take the word of some guy on the internet that drinks to much and claims to know things.

If this is completely internal tracking just to understand the cost of the project then entering it is really up to you. I can see the argument from either side with this case, and am not sure there is a "Right" answer. Because if that 45 minutes puts the project over the line, that project has other issue.


Your question seems to include the answer -- you had a "lunch meeting," not just a casual lunch with coworkers. The time you spent in this meeting discussing unrelated, non-work topics could be considered normal small-talk or banter, which typically happens in official meetings between coworkers.

If you are in an environment where you count "billable" hours, I would try charging it against admin/overhead time. Make sure you have some type of deliverable, relevant decision, or transfer of knowledge to justify this as being on-the-clock before submitting your timesheet.

If there are any issues with your supervisor or payroll department, I would try to avoid lunch meetings with these people in the future. That should be your time to forget about work so you can focus again in the afternoon.

Source: being a programmer/techie for the past 17 years


Don't worry about it. If you're salaried but entering timesheets, meaning the hours you record don't actually impact pay, it's pretty standard to record 7.5 hours for work and 0.5 hours for lunch (or whatever your contract says) for every single day, regardless of actual time spent on either. The assumption is that you're a professional and the occasional 1-hour lunches will balance out with the occasional sandwich gobbled at your desk.

I'd suggest you check with your manager if this is OK, or whether they really care about how many minutes you're spending on your lunch break. And while you're at it, check how they want you to record significant overtime if it happens.


If you're discussing work projects, it's working time. It sounds like you were discussing work for the entire time, both while eating and after, so I'd consider the entire event working time and not a "lunch break."

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