Average Belgian employee loses more than € 44,000 during their entire career by not taking a full lunch break


On average, the Belgian employee who does not take his break completely, loses € 44,279 net through his / her career by doing extra work for free during the lunch break. StepStone interviewed more than 5,000 Belgian employees on their lunch breaks and discovered some important findings. Also, more than half (58%) of the respondents do not take their full break.


Some bite-sized findings:

  • More than half (58%) of Belgian employees do not take a full lunch break.
  • The average lunch break lasts 22 minutes, while roughly 40 minutes are allowed by the employer.
  • Male versus female: on average, a male Belgian employee works 17 minutes too long during the lunch break, while female respondents work an average of 18 minutes too long.


What does the average lunch break look like?

An average lunch break consists of 22 minutes and 20 seconds, while more than 40 minutes are allowed for Belgian employees.

Now that most of the Belgians are looking forward to 2019 and promise to have some good intentions, it is perhaps time to take that full lunch break at work. More than half (58%) of Belgian employees do not, and that has a noticeable impact in the long term. Yet the Belgian worker clearly has his reasons for not taking a break.


Why does the Belgian not take his lunch break?

The main reason for the Belgian to not (completely) take his break is that they have too much work (74%). Other, but clearly less significant reasons were that people could go home earlier (15%) and because they thought their break is not important (15%).

Among those who take no or only a partial break, almost 71% choose to eat their lunch at the workplace during work – possibly during a quieter moment. More than 16% who do not fully take his or her break, on the other hand, do not eat at all.


More pressure on the French-speaking employees not to take a lunch break

When asked whether the Belgian employee has ever felt pressured not to take his break, we noticed a striking regional difference.

According to the StepStone survey, 13% of the Dutch-speaking respondents feel occasionally pressured to continue working throughout their break. With French-speaking workers, on the other hand, this was a worrying 28%. It is also striking that more than 7% chose not to answer this question. It is not entirely unexpected that the company culture and work ethic plays an important role in whether or not to take a break. The employer very much so influences his employee’s lunch break.


What are the consequences?

One of the non-neglectable consequences is financial. When we convert the worked lunch break into a monetary value, this corresponds to a loss of more than € 44,000 net throughout someone’s full-time career. In a full-time career of 45 years, this also means a period of about one and a half year of lost work.


The Belgian man and woman lose the same amount

Despite the gender gap and therefore a difference in average net pay, the loss of wages is remarkably similar due to the extra performance during the lunch break. The difference in pause (about 17 minutes for a man versus 18 minutes for a woman) makes up for the inequality in standard pay to a certain extent.

While a male Belgian employee loses € 44,205 net throughout his career by working longer, a woman misses an average of € 44,344 net by taking this working time into her lunch break.

For specific inquiries, please contact:
Killian Cramers
+32 2 209 97 44 or +32 472 55 00 97