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Glassdoor survey: 40% of UK employees would opt for reduced work hours, rather than a lunch break

In a world where flexible working is gaining popularity over the traditional 9-to-5 shift, it appears that the customary break for a lunch hour is in a state of flux too.

Seven in 10 British employees have recently stated that they usually take less than an hour for lunch at work, with the national average coming in at around 31 minutes, according to a Glassdoor survey published Friday.

On top of that, 40 percent of those surveyed stated they would opt for reduced working hours over having a designated lunch period, as this would provide them with the opportunity to finish work earlier or start later.

When it comes to why employees may currently cut their lunch breaks short, 18 percent of participants pointed out they often felt that they had to work through their lunch break, as their fellow colleagues do. One in four stated they sometimes have smaller breaks, so they don't lag behind or miss a work deadline.

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"The lunch hour is becoming a thing of the past and fewer people have the time or the inclination to take a long lunch break anymore," said John Lamphiere, EMEA managing director at jobs website Glassdoor, in a statement.

He added that it seems as though the act of eating lunch is being "squeezed" into the work day — and this can be often coupled with other tasks, such as running errands, exercise or shopping.

"It seems like greater flexibility in working hours or higher pay would be far more preferable to most employees than a traditional hour-long lunch break," Lamphiere noted, explaining how companies could "tap into this desire for flexibility" by looking into whether an adjustable policy on lunch breaks is optimal.

In the survey, over a third of participants called for more autonomy surrounding flexible rest breaks, as it would give them more control when it came to the structure of their working day.

British-based companies have to abide by certain legal requirements surrounding employee welfare. U.K. law indicates that the majority of workers shouldn't have to work more than 48 hours a week, however you can ask to opt out of this and work more, if you're over the age of 18.

In regard to lunch breaks, employees who work more than 6 hours a day, have the right to at least one uninterrupted 20 minute rest break, according to the U.K. government. Many companies however, often offer longer or more frequent rest periods to their workers, to avoid any adverse effects on people's physical and mental health.

When it comes to having a fully-flexible workplace, only 16 percent surveyed said they had complete autonomy on when and how long they take for lunch. Just under a third of those polled, however stated their organization was quite flexible in terms of taking breaks, suggesting that employers are taking note of the changing workplace.

Glassdoor's survey asked 2,000 employed adults in the U.K. about their eating habits during the workday.

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