No, a 9 to 5 job in the US does not include a lunch break.
Most white-collar jobs in the United States require employees to work at least 40 hours a week. It implies that the employees must work at least eight hours a day, Monday to Friday, to complete their 40 hours-a-week requirements.
In that case, the question often arises of whether the 40 hours includes or excludes lunchtime. It’s a concern for new employees who are just starting out and unfamiliar with how long they are expected to work. It’s easy enough to calculate 40 hours, but will they have additional time to eat?
A typical workday starts at 9 am and ends at 5 pm in the US. It allows the employees to go home in the evenings and have a work-life balance. However, the employees can have some flexibility to include the lunch hour.
Most companies will inform the employees about all the rules and regulations. They would be notified about lunch breaks, leaves, and holidays. Hence, if everything is systematically done and the employees follow the schedule, there is no problem in following a 9 to 5 schedule.
Why is it Important to Take a Lunch Break?
One of the reasons why many adults complain of stress, anxiety, and cardiovascular diseases is that they have a hectic lifestyle. And much of this pertains to stress in the office.
Working for eight hours straight, without a lunch break, could be dangerous because your body would not receive any nutrition for an extended period while working and stressing about various aspects of the job.
It is important to take a lunch break to replenish yourself. Most people have their breakfast at or even before 8 am if they are to commute through the traffic and reach work by 9 am. As one starts working, exhaustion may creep in, and sugar levels drop consistently. By lunch hours, usually at 12 noon or 12:30 pm, you are bound to feel hungry.
If you deny your hunger at this point and keep pushing through, your body will be exhausted. Not only will you feel uneasy, but you will also feel irritable with hunger. You will be devoid of energy, and your productivity will drop remarkably during the second half of the day.
A wholesome and nutritious lunch will energize you for the second half of the day. You may carry a packed lunch from home or grab a bite, allowing you to stretch your legs. Please do not ignore the needs of your body and overlook your health. This oversight will cost you in the long run, so it is better to schedule a lunch hour.
How to Schedule Your Lunch in a 40-Hour Week?
If you want to schedule a lunch hour in the 40-hour work week- which you ideally should- you can start or end your day an hour earlier or later.
Since a 9 to 5 job is precisely eight hours, you must add an additional hour in the morning or evening to include the lunch break. You can do so by coming to work at 8 am. In that case, it will be an 8 to 5 schedule. Or you can leave at 6 pm if your office allows it.
Here is what an 8 to 5 schedule, including a lunch break, would look like.
- 8 am: Reach work
- 8 am to 12 noon: Work time
- 12 noon to 1 pm: Lunch break
- 1 pm to 5 pm: Work time
- 5 pm: Leave work
If you can’t come to work before 9 am because you may have to drop your kids at school, then you can reach at 9 am and leave at 6 pm.
Here is what a 9 to 6 schedule, including a lunch break, would look like.
- 9 am: Reach work
- 9 am to 1 pm: Work Time
- 1 pm to 2 pm: Lunch Break
- 2 pm to 6 pm: Work Time
- 6 pm: Leave work
In both these cases, you still work eight hours daily, 4 hours before lunch and 4 hours after. For the sake of your health, you must choose one of these schedules so that you do not suffer from nutritional deficiency.
However, you can reduce your 1-hour lunch break to 30 minutes if you do not need an hour to eat. Most employers will agree to such adjustments, while others often have a work day scheduled, including the lunch break because they are mindful of their employee’s health.
Are Short Breaks Included in a 40-Hour Week?
Yes, short breaks to the coffee room are included in the 40-hour week. You do not have to schedule an extra slot for a smoke or to have some coffee. However, ensure you don’t spend too much time at the water cooler or coffee vending machine.
Most employers don’t monitor the time you spend getting coffee. But they would notice if you took coffee breaks too frequently or spent too much time gossiping at the water cooler. Being a little mindful always helps.
Is Lunch Break Included in 9 to 5 Schedules During Remote Work?
Remote working has several advantages; one of them is that you can take a small lunch break without anybody noticing. It’s especially true if you work from different time zones and your employers are primarily concerned with getting the work done. Hence, as long as you are on top of your work, this should not matter.
However, things are different when you have to log in at a particular time during the day for your work, and you can’t log out before eight hours are completed during the day. Some companies have specific internal software that the employees are supposed to use to maintain uniformity about the work hours.
If you think you can sneak out at some time, this might not always work. You may get a call for work or an urgent face-to-face chat for a group meeting, and your employers may find out you are away from your computer. It’s especially the case when you have to stay online throughout the duration of your work.
So it’s better to calculate your work timings and time zones before taking a lunch break. You may even talk to your employers about it.
Are Dinner Breaks Included in Night Shifts?
The calculations are more or less the same for those working in the evenings or nights. They are still required to work 40 hours a week; in their case, work may start at 9 pm and end at 5 am.
Or, it could be any other variation, depending on the nature of the work. They could take a half-hour break if someone feels hungry and wants to grab a bite.
In that case, they would have to come to work at 8:30 pm instead. However, since some workplaces are more lenient about rules at night, you could sit at your desk and eat a packed lunch without taking a break.
Is a Lunch Break Included in a Job that Requires Much Traveling?
For those who have to travel a lot during the day, the idea of a lunch break would depend entirely on the nature of their work. However, a separate lunch break may not always be included because one may quickly stop at a joint or a café to grab something while traveling from one point to another.
There is always something en route, and one could also eat on the go. So some employees may not need a separate lunch break. However, it would still be advisable to speak about this to your employer once, depending on how your work hours are calculated with your travel time.
Working a 9 to 5 job every day can be stressful. However, although you cannot do much about the mental stress that is often a byproduct of the complexities of the job, you can at least ensure that you are physically healthy by ensuring proper nutrition.
Having your lunch on time is essential because many nutritionists will tell you about the negative impacts of skipping lunch regularly. Hence, it is a good idea to make at least 30 minutes, if not an hour, to eat something peacefully without rushing in the middle of an otherwise chaotic 9 to 5 workday. Your body will thank you for it!