Skip to main content

Six million Brits miss out on a lunchbreak

27th June 2017
  • Three million2 workers across the UK take only one lunchbreak a week
  • Over a million3 self-employed Brits never manage to take time out for lunch  
  • The East Midlands is the most likely region to never step away for a lunch break (24%) compared to those in London (46%) taking five or more breaks a week
  • Only 14% of the UK workforce are able to do their banking at lunch
  • Metro Bank open early to late, seven days a week, 362 days a year, enabling customers to do their banking at their own convenience

Metro Bank, the revolution in British banking, has found that a staggering six million workers in the UK (one in 10) never take a lunchbreak. Among those who do manage to take a breather, a whopping 57% take half an hour or less and a fifth (17%) take 20 minutes or less.

For those who, when lunchtime comes, can’t quite peel themselves away from work, more than a third (35%) blame not having enough time and just over a fifth (22%) describe preferring to eat lunch in the office.

According to psychologist and author of The Anxiety Journal, Corinne Sweet: "In our frantic 24/7 life today, it is absolutely essential for Brits' health and mental well-being to take a break and get out into the light and fresh air, no matter what. Employers need to encourage daily 'sanity breaks' and a real effort has to be made to go against the culture of being tied to the desk. Productivity goes up when employees take a break. This is equally important for the self-employed, who may get much-needed social contact or physical exercise, by going out of the house for a brief break at lunchtime."

Men make a meal of it 

When delving into who misses out on a well-deserved lunchbreak, more women (23%) fail to break for lunch, compared to a mere 15% of men. In fact, 41% of men manage to take time out five or more times a week.

Let’s get regional

For cities and regions across Britain, Metro Bank found the following:

Top three regions that never take a lunch breakTop three regions that take five or more lunch breaks
East Midlands (24%) London (46%)
South East (23%) Wales (42%)
South West (22%) East Midlands (41%)
Top three cities that never take a lunch breakTop three cities that take five or more lunch breaks
Bristol (29%) Cardiff (50%)
Southampton (29%) Birmingham (41%)
Nottingham (26%) London (38%)

Industry intel

Among different industries there were some big variances, with workers in the arts and entertainment sector being the most likely to work on through lunch (33%), followed by those in health (27%) and education (26%). On the other hand, over half of those working in manufacturing say that they take a lunch break five or more times a week (53%).

The self-employed situation

What’s more, over a million self-employed Brits never take a lunchbreak, with a fifth (21%) taking 20 minutes or less to recharge their batteries before they return to work. When comparing how lunchbreaks are spent, those who are self-employed or freelance are three times as likely to feel relaxed with the tasks that they get done during this time, than those who don’t work for themselves (17% vs 5% respectively).

The self-employed also tend to use their lunchbreak for more physical exercise, such as taking a walk (10%) compared to salaried-workers (3%). Those that work for themselves however also appear to feel more pressure to be productive during their lunchbreak compared to their employed counterparts (13% vs. 7% respectively).

Iain Kirkpatrick, Managing Director Retail Banking at Metro Bank said: “Gone are the days when an hour’s break was the norm. Although taking time out is essential to a healthy work-life balance, we know that pressures and workloads can often dictate otherwise.

“That’s why we don’t force our customers to use what little time they have away from their work to do their banking. Instead, if they want to come and see us, we’re open early in the morning to late at night, at weekends and bank holidays. Customers’ lives have changed, that’s why we’re open at their convenience, not ours.”

Notes to editors

All research conducted by Opinium Research on behalf of Metro Bank 31st March 2017

1. 234 respondents never take a lunch break. 234 / 2004 * 51,339,000 (UK population) = 5,994,674 or 6 million.
2. 119 take a lunch break only once a week. 119 / 2004 * 51,339,000 (UK population) = 3,048,573 or 3 million.
3. 41 respondents are self-employed and say that they never take a lunch break. 41 / 2004 * 51,339,000 (UK population) = 1,050,348 or 1 million
4. Based on the average bank branch being open 7.5hours per day Monday to Fridays, 6 hours on Saturdays and closed Sundays and bank holidays.