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Topic: Policies

food at desks policy
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Food at desks policy

Food at desks policy

Allowing staff to eat at their desks gives rise to a whole host of potential issues, so our food at desks policy bans them from eating any hot and cold food at their desks, but permits hot and cold drinks. If banning eating altogether is impractical, you could amend it to, say, permit light snacks but ban hot and cold main meals.

The problem

Working in an office can be tiring and stressful so employees often like to snack throughout the day to pick them up. In addition, many eat lunch at their desks on a regular basis because they think they’re just too busy to take a proper break. But food can get rubbed into desks and flooring easily, tiny pieces of food can break off and fall into computer keyboards and eating can be noisy, off putting and smelly for other staff working close by. In addition to these reasons related to hygiene, damage to company property and maintaining a clean and comfortable working environment for everyone, there are other reasons why you might want to impose an eating at desks ban - it can help avoid unprofessionalism on the telephone and it encourages staff to take a break, which is important as sitting in the same position without taking regular breaks can cause muscular and skeletal problems. Finally, food garbage can attract mice and insects so it’s better to have it placed in the correct bins rather than ones under the desk. Our Food at Desks Policy imposes a blanket ban on staff eating food at their desks or whilst walking around the workplace; this includes both hot and cold food and encompasses all snack food. If employees need to eat during the day, we’ve provided they must use designated areas, such as canteen or kitchen facilities, and made clear that whilst light snacks may be consumed in reasonable amounts during the working day, main meals should be confined to proper break or lunch times.


Banning drinks at desks is more problematic because you need to ensure employees are staying properly hydrated during the day. So we’ve allowed for hot and cold drinks to be permitted at desks (except for alcohol and soup). If you’re still worried about property damage caused by spillages, you could allow water to be consumed at desks but not other hot and cold drinks. However, bear in mind that most employees like to drink tea and coffee or cold drinks, so the more types of drinks you ban, the more often your staff are going to be in the kitchen consuming their drinks rather than doing their work. One option here would be to provide non-spill cups or sports-style bottles.

Food storage

Finally, we’ve covered the position of staff storing food in the office and distinguished between perishable and non-perishable items. It’s advisable to have your cleaners check communal cupboards and fridges on a regular basis for food that’s reached its expiry date and therefore we’ve provided that out-of-date food will be disposed of.

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