The Easter holidays are always a relaxing time when you can switch off from the day-to-day treadmill of work and allow your thoughts to drift towards all things pleasant and stress free. Nothing achieves this state of mind better than a visit from the grandchildren - playing football on the lawn, feeding the ducks in the park, or simply sitting them on your knee and reading them a nursery rhyme is never a chore.
"Read me another one" urges granddaughter number 1, "what about Polly and Sukey?" I could think of nothing better as we sat in the garden without a care in the world, with birds chirping merrily in the `background. I put on my best nursery rhyme singing voice. This is much higher than I would ideally like to employ but singing nursery rhymes “basso profundo” generally sends young children running off in tears to their mum for shelter.
“Polly put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on, we’ll all have tea”
"Sukey, take it off again, Sukey take it off again, Sukey take it off again, they've all gone away"
My voice held up well, granddaughter number one loved it but out of nowhere, my inner kettle switched on accidentally and began to boil, slowly at first but then to a bubbling, steaming conclusion. It had subconsciously triggered unpleasant thoughts and images of those lazy employees in the office, Darren and Sharon.
If tea drinking was an Olympic sport, Britain would be assured of a gold medal this August. Their tea break extension techniques are at a higher level of performance than their job efforts! I hate their tea break skills with a passion!
Having to repeat Polly and Sukey four more times led to me needing a tea break myself. Ironic that, as I rarely have time for one when I'm at work!
So don't let your Darren and Sharon ruin quality time with your family. Make sure that
- there are clear rules on when and for how long employees can take breaks
- incorporate the start and finish times of any breaks allowed into a written statement
- ask yourself if you need to introduce fixed break times to help to control any problem
- consider the question of payment for breaks carefully and make it clear which breaks are taken with and without pay
- most importantly, always deal with the issue of extended unauthorised breaks promptly and consistently. Keep a record over a reasonable period of time, such as two weeks, so that you can present hard facts to Darren and Sharon if needed
- try a general reminder to everyone first of all of the do’s and don'ts in relation to breaks before any formal disciplinary action is contemplated
Little Miss Muffet was her next choice. As everyone knows, she sat on a tuffet, eating her curds and whey – which reminded me of Darren and Sharon when they are having their extended lunch. AAAAARRGH!
John Latham - Senior Employment Law Consultant
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