Employment experts are warning employers they are legally responsible to protect staff from burn-out following research that showed that the average worker's lunch break is just 19 minutes.
Kathy Halliday, employment partner at Birmingham law firm Cobbetts, said bosses had a responsibility to ensure staff did not suffer ill health as a result of exhaustively long hours.
"Employers need to ensure that they are treating their staff with fairness and in line with employment law. Recent research at revealed the average lunch break is now 19 minutes long.
"Since this length is 26 per cent lower than eight months ago, it is clear that, to prevent this trend from continuing, employers need to oversee working hours and help reduce any ill health that may be caused by overworking."
She said businesses needed to understand that the work-ing time regulations introduced in 1998 state that an employee is entitled to a 20-minute rest break if they work more than six hours.
"Although employers are actually under no legal obligation to ensure a sufficient rest break is taken, if employees become ill due to lack of rest and demanding hours, employers may be held responsible under health and safety provisions," she added.
Further research has proved that anxiety and stress are linked to low job satisfaction, so employers should look seriously at tackling the consequences of job dissatisfaction and related health problems.
Likewise, if employers face stress claims, they may find it difficult to defend the claim if they were aware that the employees were working long hours and not taking adequate breaks.
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