Wage theft is incredibly common in the workplace. While some forms may be less severe than others, some create a stressful working environment, leaving employees feeling like their time or work is not appreciated.
One minor case that can leave a severe impact is off-the-clock time being treated as on-the-clock time. Giving breaks is not only legally required in many states, but it’s veritably good for workers. A blog post on Michigan State University’s 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 increased job satisfaction.”
However, many see break time as another opportunity to discuss work. An example of this idea recently went viral after being shared by TikTok user Stephanie (@stephanie.sangiovese).
In a video with over 2.1 million views, Stephanie says, “I really regret not eating lunch in my car today. My coworker has already interrupted my lunch twice to talk to me and I have my headphones in and I’m looking at my phone. Please leave me alone.”
@stephanie.sangiovese I want to eat lunch in peace #lunchtime #lunchtimeatwork #worklunch #worklunchtime #lunchbreak ♬ Sunset Lover – Petit Biscuit
In comments, users generally supported Stephanie’s idea, with many offering stories of their own lunch break interruptions.
“My boss came in and interrupted me on my lunch to go over an email I had sent out,” one user wrote.
“It’s this and the teams message right when you log in!” another shared. “Leave me alone! Damn! Let me drink my coffee!”
“Never forget the time I was reading a book with headphones in while eating my lunch at my desk and someone we know came and asked me about work,” recalled a third.
Others agreed that the best thing to do was simply leave the office or find some other way to tune people out.
“I started going to a park near my work on my lunches for this exact reason,” a commenter offered. “I’m a receptionist so I just want to not talk when on lunch.”
“I’ve gotten to the point where I will ignore people even if I hear them,” a second wrote. “I don’t care anymore.”
“I use to go to a park and just sit in my car for lunch. I needed to decompress and be silent for an hour,” a further TikToker shared.
Additionally, a few users noted that, in some cases, being legally entitled to a break means being entitled to an uninterrupted break. That means if one’s boss asks them about work during their time off, they are entitled to start their break over.
“Im CA, if you are interrupted with a work question you can legally re-start rhe lunch break. all breaks have to be uninterrupted,” a TikToker claimed.
According to Yash Law Group, this is true, and the rules go even further.
“…If an employee’s meal break is interrupted for even one minute, and the employee does not receive 30 consecutive duty-free minutes for a meal break, the employer must pay the employee an additional hour of pay for that day, known as ‘premium pay,’” the group writes.
The Daily Dot reached out to Stephanie via Instagram direct message.