More than half of Belgians don’t take a full lunchbreak

According to a survey carried out by the HR consultancy Stepstone, 58% of people working in Belgium don’t take all of their statuary lunchbreak. 5,000 people were questioned about how long they took for their lunchbreak. Based on the responses received Stepstone calculated that on average Belgian’s take just 22 minutes and 20 seconds for their meal break, while they are entitled to an average of 40 minutes. 

This means that they work an average of 17 minutes and 40 seconds a day for free, which is almost 1.5 hours a week.   

The reason given by 74% of those not taking their full lunchbreak entitlement is that they have too much work. 15% of those not taking their full lunchbreak say they do so because they can go home earlier. 15% also said that they don’t think their break is important so they either don’t bother taking it or only take it in part.  

71% of those either not taking a meal break or only taking it in part eat their lunch at their desk while they are working.  

The figures reveal differences between Francophone and Dutch-speaking employees. Francophones are put under more pressure to not take a lunchbreak than Flemings. 28% of Francophone respondents said that they felt under pressure to carry on working through lunch, while just 13% of the Flemings questioned said the same. 

Stepstone calculated that over a career of 45 years an average Belgian an average Belgian loses out on more than 44,000 euro gross income as a result of failing to take 17 minutes and 40 seconds of their lunchbreak every working day.