Firms Risk Productivity as Staff Skip Fresh Air Breaks

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Employment law firm Croner Consulting has warned employers are risking a slump in morale and productivity, as three quarters of office workers get less than one hour of fresh air during their working day.

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The research from T–Mobile also revealed that more than half of office workers resent working inside all day during the summer.

Commenting on the T–Mobile research, Croner’s employment technical consultant, Gillian Dowling, said:

“Employers should encourage staff to have fresh air breaks at lunchtime. Not having a break is bad for employees’ concentration and productivity.

“While in some cases there might be very good reasons for missing out on a lunch break, employers have to make sure that workers are having a rest break under the Working Time Regulations,” she added.

Under the Working Time Regulations (1998), employees who work more than six hours continuously are entitled to an uninterrupted rest break, away from their work station, of at least 20 minutes. Employees under the age of 18 who work more than four and a half hours continuously are entitled to a break of at least 30 minutes.

According to Dowling, small firms should consider allowing staff to work flexibly during the summer months.

“SMEs have to see what they can manage with their resources, but some try to give staff flexible hours during the good weather, so they can choose to come in earlier and leave earlier, making the most of the sunshine,” she said.

Psychologist Dr Rob Yeung added that a lack of sunlight can cause summer affective disorder, similar to the seasonal affective disorder triggered by a lack of daylight in winter.

“Not getting enough exposure to sunshine can affect your brain chemistry, sleep cycles and mood – all contributing to your morale,” he said.

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