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  #21  
Old 01.09.2016, 09:55
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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Do you actually have time during this 1.45 hours for a half hour lunch, or is it fully travel then study?
I think that doesn't matter, what the employee does during the break is up to him.

The issue with the break may be that it's taken too early. For instance, it may be required to be taken between 11:30 and 13:00 in order to cut the work time into two similarly sized blocks.
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  #22  
Old 01.09.2016, 10:08
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

In that case I will go to her and ask for the reasons. So far the possible reasons are:
- it's too early (even though there is not such restriction in the internal regulations),
- company pays for it so they assume it's only learning and I must eat instead,
- HR is a little bit biased, I've got a note I must obey Swiss law

I will let you know.
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  #23  
Old 01.09.2016, 10:14
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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In that case I will go to her and ask for the reasons. So far the possible reasons are:
- it's too early (even though there is not such restriction in the internal regulations),
- company pays for it so they assume it's only learning and I must eat instead,
- HR is a little bit biased, I've got a note I must obey Swiss law

I will let you know.
Just to clarify, because I think I understood something differently in your first post:

You do your hours at the course you are taking then don't bother with a lunch break on those days because you consider your absence at the course can be counted as a lunch break? HR objects to this and are informing you that you need to take a lunch break, regardless of your attendance at a course.

Because from your later post, it reads like HR are telling you that the course time is also your lunch break.
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  #24  
Old 01.09.2016, 10:15
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

Is there a maximum block of time that can be worked without a break?

If you're working until 6, is it the 6.25 hour block that's the issue?
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  #25  
Old 01.09.2016, 10:25
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

@Sandgrounder Yes, my assumption was that since I am absent at work (logged off) during this 105 minutes then it could be counted as my mandatory unpaid lunch break. And in this case I am not obliged to log off for another 30 minutes since I want to get back to work and not to seat another +30 minutes longer.

@mirfield I cannot see that regulation in the internal rules, I've pasted them in the previous posts.
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  #26  
Old 01.09.2016, 10:29
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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@Sandgrounder Yes, my assumption was that since I am absent at work (logged off) during this 105 minutes then it could be counted as my mandatory unpaid lunch break. And in this case I am not obliged to log off for another 30 minutes since I want to get back to work and not to seat another +30 minutes longer.
.
OK, then it seems that HR is just keeping to the law. It's not about the amount of time you are logged off, it's about the time you are not working and having some down time.

We're all guilty of scoffing a sandwich at our desks over lunchtime but sometimes it's just nice to get out and have a wander.

Presumably your course needs concentration and brain-power and is work related so the company would be negligent if they counted that as your lunch-break.
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Old 01.09.2016, 10:34
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

Ok, but now just out of this. What if that would be another course I've paid for and they would not be aware of ? In that case it would be ok ?

I can tell you that I am biking every time to get there, so a lot of oxygen, a little bit of physical activity You know, that's the weird thing that they can assess my free time and say - no you did not have a proper break.
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  #28  
Old 01.09.2016, 10:38
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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...My boss said he cannot do much against HR...
Yes he can. He just tells them that it's fine with him. Unless there's some law being broken...

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OK, then it seems that HR is just keeping to the law. ...
Presumably your course needs concentration and brain-power and is work related so the company would be negligent if they counted that as your lunch-break.
But if the course isn't mandated by the company and isn't work related (e.g. a language course), then it's got nothing to do with HR - it's not the company's responsibility, the law is being adhered to.

When I first came here, my employer paid for my German course, but it was to be taken in my own time. I did mine in the evening, but lunch break is own time, to do with as you will. You could be equally working on your Cosmology PhD...

The OP should check with HR what their objection is - is it when he's taking his break, or what he's doing during the break?
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  #29  
Old 01.09.2016, 10:42
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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Ok, but now just out of this. What if that would be another course I've paid for and they would not be aware of ? In that case it would be ok ?
I guess it would be a grey area if it was your own course financed by yourself but they have to take a view and if they consider the course to be "work time" then it can't be considered "lunch time".

There are so many stories on here from employees whose employers are taking them for a ride and trying to weedle them out of "free time", it's quite refreshing to read from someone who has got the opposite problem and doesn't necessarily want their free time...
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  #30  
Old 01.09.2016, 10:49
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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I guess it would be a grey area if it was your own course financed by yourself but they have to take a view and if they consider the course to be "work time" then it can't be considered "lunch time".

There are so many stories on here from employees whose employers are taking them for a ride and trying to weedle them out of "free time", it's quite refreshing to read from someone who has got the opposite problem and doesn't necessarily want their free time...
I can't imagine the company considering a language course as work time. We certainly don't; we pay for half the course if an employee wants to do it, but then they do it on their own time (e.g. It's a benefit, not a working requirement).
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  #31  
Old 01.09.2016, 11:01
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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I can't imagine the company considering a language course as work time. We certainly don't; we pay for half the course if an employee wants to do it, but then they do it on their own time (e.g. It's a benefit, not a working requirement).
I think it varies company to company. For us, it is paid for by the company and considered work time.
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  #32  
Old 01.09.2016, 11:29
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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And in this case I am not obliged to log off for another 30 minutes since I want to get back to work and not to seat another +30 minutes longer.
I think it may be around this.


You may still be working enough hours (coming in early, etc) to mandate the extra break and therefore, your time card must show you have taken the break. You can't trade the lunch for this extra break to get home earlier. From the outside, it looks like the company isn't giving you the mandated time off and they could get in trouble if audited.
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  #33  
Old 01.09.2016, 12:43
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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I guess it would be a grey area if it was your own course financed by yourself but they have to take a view and if they consider the course to be "work time" then it can't be considered "lunch time"...
If it's work time, then it must be paid. If it is unpaid, then it cannot be work time, and their only possible grounds for complaint is the timing of the "lunch" break.
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  #34  
Old 01.09.2016, 12:44
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

After the meeting with HR. It looks like there is no strict rule. One lady is interpreting this as a proper break, another as part of the work time.

Fortunately the one who decides is with me. Apart from that there is no problem with imperfect division of my work time time.

Thanks again for your input !
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  #35  
Old 01.09.2016, 13:04
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

@piotrdz
whatever it is that you and HR discussed, get it in writing.

One way to do this is to write it up yourself: list the main points that were discussed, and then set out the final agreement that was reached. Then mail this to HR, saying that this mail stands as a record of the discussion of DATE. Ask for their confirmation that your formulation does, indeed, correctly set out what was agreed.

When you get it, print your mail, and theirs, out, and file them away together with your employment contract. That should keep you on the safe side, in case the HR woman who agrees with you ever leaves the company, and the other one becomes the person to decide.
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  #36  
Old 01.09.2016, 13:35
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

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Just eat a sandwich during the language course
A cautionary tale:

No eating in German class??


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  #37  
Old 01.09.2016, 14:13
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

The purpose of a break is just that - a break from work. Whether you eat a sandwich or not during the time, no one gives a shit (and needless to say no one will follow you to make sure you eat). But it's not a break meant to spend working in any shape or form.

In a country with very few laws around employee protection, people should be glad at least this one is regulated. This law is also the reason why some companies deduct 30 or 60mins from your working hours, independent of whether you take a break or not. The maximum hours of work you're supposed to be doing without a break is limited too.

The reason they are not counting your course as a lunch break is because it's not. The timing is off. No one eats lunch at 10.

That being said, if you're being paid during your course (i.e. do not have to "clock" it as free time; whether the company pays for the course or not is irrelevant), they can insist you take an additional lunch break. If you are not being paid, they are still right, but probably have no grounds to "force" you to take your break.

And yes, language courses at our company count as working time if they are relevant for the job (again independent of who pays for it). If I study Arabic in the evenings just for the fun of it, that is my business. If I take a German course during the day as it's relevant in some way or another for my job, or, in the case of expats, at the very least useful for settling in, they're paying it, i.e. it counts as working time.
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  #38  
Old 01.09.2016, 15:46
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

It's interesting view but you pose some contradicting statements in your post.

Firstly you say it's not about eating or not but to have a break from work. Then you justify their objections by claiming that this is not a lunch break because nobody eats at 10.

My initial question was is the lunch break meant to be devoted to having a lunch or not. It's not.

I am not exceeding the maximum hours limit without breaks since I putting around three before and four/five afterwards.

And I am having a break from my professional assignments by having a pleasant bike ride and some linguistic exercises in between. There is nothing more besides that and I am happy that HR can respect my choice.

@doropfiz thanks for a good advice !
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  #39  
Old 01.09.2016, 17:13
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

Yeah it's really not. A lunch break is a break to eat lunch. It's in the name. The only reason no one cares whether you actually eat lunch or not is because in reality, no one can check up on it. Unless you would you like your boss stand next to you to make sure you eat your salad... However, just because that aspect cannot actually be ensured/controlled doesn't change the fact that the break is, theoretically, indeed intended as a break to eat - and not work or take courses.

The idea also is to split the working day into more or less two even parts. Working from 8-10, then going on a "lunch" break which isn't even one, only to return and work from 12-6 is not the idea. You essentially have no break whatsoever on the days you are at your course - hence the "concern" on the the company's side. It's also a regular occurrence, it seems. I sometimes go to doctor's appointments over lunch. But not twice a week. You say you start at 7 and after that course again until 4 or 5, which is probably why they're letting it go as it's just within the official limits.

Lastly, many companies have official or unoffical rules within what hours you generally can and/or need to be at work and between which hours a lunch can generally be taken. Our massive MNC for example quotes as general working hours 6am to 8pm. Depending on the job, you can do your hours at any point during that time. We don't have a designated time for lunch breaks - but many companies do. They won't start at 10, though, but at best at 11, maybe until 2, sometimes 11:30-1:30. There may be a regulation somewhere in the company, even if you haven't seen it. Granted, HR should tell you then and give you a copy.


In case you understand German, here's the law:
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Die Pausen sind um die Mitte der Arbeitszeit anzusetzen (ArG Art. 15)

Der Zweck der Pausen, die Erholung und die Verpflegung, ist nur erfüllt, wenn is etwa in der Mitte der Arbeitszeit gewährt werden. «Pausen» am Anfang oder am Ende der Arbeitszeit sind keine echten Pausen und gelten nicht als gewährt (vgl. Kommentar Art. 18 ArGV 1).

Last edited by Samaire13; 01.09.2016 at 17:23.
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  #40  
Old 01.09.2016, 17:25
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Re: Is Lunch break meant to be only for lunch :) ?

Legally half an hour of lunch break is mandatory...but it can be used for anything I guess
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