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Worker Says She Doesn't Start Her Break Officially Until Her Food Is Hot And She's Already Sitting Down

Photo: @khristianb2 / TikTok
Screenshots from @khristianb2 TikTok

Anyone who’s ever had a job knows exactly how critical breaks are. Without a decent break, how are you supposed to stay focused, nourished, and able to perform well at your work?

As one TikTok video pointed out, you've got to make the most of your break — if you have to spend the whole time fending off customers or preparing your food, that’s not much of a break.

A Target employee posted a video proclaiming that her 15-minute break doesn’t start until her food is cooked and she’s seated.

A TikTok showing a woman enjoying her 15-minute break at work racked up over a million views and hundreds of comments from people who found it relatable. A mere 15 minutes is barely enough time to take a proper break, even without considering how long it takes to get situated.

“They always said ‘your break starts as soon as you leave your station’ but the walk to get food and then to the break room is 10 minutes alone,” said one comment. “Girl my break room is a 10 min walk — I'm startin the clock when I'm SAT,” another person added.

If you’re waiting in line for food or the bathroom, that can hardly be considered a break. “Yeah the prep time does not count as my break time,” one person wrote.

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A few people pointed out that until they’re actually in the break room or wherever they take their break, employees can still be approached by customers. “I got in trouble for not clocking out for my break until I got back to the break room and I was like… guests still ask me questions so…” one comment said.

There was no shortage of comments from people stretching the limits of their allotted break times. One person declared, “My break doesn’t start 'til I’m settled in my car, snacks in hand, and show loaded. My 15 also doesn’t end until my 30-minute episode is over.”

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Unfortunately for a couple of workers in the comments, some managers are stricter than others. “At Starbucks they TIME you,” one person lamented. “You have 10 minutes to get your food, drink, eat, and get back on the floor w your apron on. I hated every second of that job.”

Other people had similar stories of strict managers with timers who would start the clock as soon as workers left their stations.

If you scroll down far enough, you’ll eventually see some comments on the TikTok accusing the woman who posted it of “time theft” and calling her “lazy” or “entitled.” Sure, she may be pushing it, but is it really that serious? As one comment put it, “If we are doing what we should be and getting it done, leads should stop being on our asses.”

Also, keep in mind that wage theft by employers is the largest type of theft in America, causing about 3 times as much economic loss as other types of theft combined.

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According to a report from 2019, “approximately $9.27 billion in wages was stolen from workers who earned less than $13 an hour.”

Photo: Tompkins County Workers Center

So maybe don’t worry too much about Target employees taking a few extra minutes on their breaks — it’s not going to put the company out of business.

Breaks are essential to a person’s well-being and shouldn’t be rushed. How are you supposed to do your best work if you’re hungry, need to use the bathroom, and have been on your feet for hours? We’re only human, after all, and our health should always come before our jobs.

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Jessica Bracken is a writer living in Davis, California. She covers entertainment and news for YourTango.