Lunch hour is a myth for travel agent staff

Most full-time travel agents never take their full lunch hour and almost 15% work through without a break, according to research.

A survey of 400 agents, by Personnel Today’s sister publication Travel Weekly, shows that 62.5% of full-time respondents took less than an hour for lunch, with 22% taking 15 minutes to half an hour and 13.7% less than 15 minutes.

Only 22% of full-timers took their full one-hour entitlement. The figure for part-time staff was 14%.

Even then, many staff admitted they do not take a lunch hour every day. Out of the full-time staff, only 37% took a lunch break five times a week. The biggest reason cited was being too busy, blamed by 68% of full-timers, with pressure at work next, blamed by 17%.

One respondent to the survey said: “Customer service is of prime importance but how can this be delivered to a high standard when staff are not getting proper breaks to leave the store for 10 minutes let alone half an hour? We are human beings not robots.”

In the survey, 34% of full-time staff said, compared to last year, they were under more pressure to work through lunch and 38% to work late.

A Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association spokeswoman said: “The industry needs to tackle this. Our concern is the impact on employees’ health.”

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