Wage theft is incredibly common in the workplace. While some forms may be less intense than others, some create a stressful work environment, leaving employees feeling that their time or work is underappreciated.
One small case that can have a severe impact is dealing with off-the-clock time on the clock. Giving rest breaks is not only legally required in many states, but is really beneficial for workers. A blog post on the Michigan State University website notes that “taking a break from work increases focus when employees return to work, thus improving their productivity. Additionally, taking breaks relieves some stress, which helps employees’ mental health and well-being. These factors contribute to in increasing job satisfaction.
However, many see break time as another opportunity to discuss work. An example of this idea went viral recently after it was shared by TikTok user Stephanie (@stephanie.sangiovese).
In a video that has garnered more than 2.1 million views, Stephanie says, “I really regret not having lunch in my car today. My co-worker has already interrupted my lunch twice already to talk to me with my headphones on while I’m looking at my phone. Please leave me alone.”
@stephanie.sangiovese I want to have lunch in peace #lunchtimeatwork #worklunch #worklunchtime #lunchbreak ♬ Sunset Lover – Petit Biscuit
In the comments, users generally endorsed Stephanie’s idea, with many providing stories of their lunch break breaks.
“My boss came and interrupted me while I was eating lunch to go through an email I sent,” one user wrote.
“It’s this and the teams message right when you log in!” Another post. “Leave me alone! Damn it! Let me drink my coffee!”
A third recalls: “Never forget the time I was reading a book with headphones on while I was having lunch at my desk and someone we knew came and asked me about work.”
Others agreed that the best thing to do was simply leave the office or find some other way to discipline people.
“I started going to a park near my work while eating my lunches for this exact reason,” one commenter said. “I’m a receptionist so I just want to not talk when I have lunch.”
He wrote again, “I have reached the point where I will ignore people even if I hear them.” “I do not care anymore.”
“I used to go to the park and sit in my car for lunch. I needed to decompress and be silent for an hour,” another TikToker shared.
In addition, a few users indicated that in some cases, the legal right to a break means that they are entitled to an uninterrupted break. This means that if their boss asks them about work while they are on vacation, they are entitled to start the rest period.
Im CA, if you are interrupted by a business question, you can legally restart your lunch break. One TikToker user claimed that all breaks should be uninterrupted.
According to Yash Law Group, it’s true, and the rules go further.
“…if an employee’s meal break is interrupted by one minute, and the employee does not receive 30 consecutive duty-free minutes of a meal break, then the employer must pay the employee an additional hour’s wages for that day, known as the “premium” paid” group wrote.
The Daily Dot reached out to Stephanie via Instagram direct message.
*First Published: Sep 13, 2022, 9:10am CST
Braden Bjella is a cultural writer. His work can be found on Mixmag, Electronic Beats, and Schön! magazine, and more.