It might come as a surprise, but contrary to what many think, the coffee break - the two daily15-minute breaks that have become accepted in the US work world - are not mandated by law. Most unions include a clause regarding such breaks, but the US federal laws pertaining to the workforce do not mandate any such breaks for employees.
If you love your coffee breaks, you might like to know that the morning and afternoon reprieves so enjoyed by American workers come to you thanks to some working housewives back in the 1880’s. Employed by a Stoughton, Wisconsin tobacco warehouse, the women took mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks to run home to check on their children and do chores.
It was almost twenty years later that the first US companies began to offer coffee breaks to their employees as a benefit. Two Buffalo NY companies, the Larkin Co and what is now known as Barcalounger, instituted the popular practice, providing two paid 15-minute breaks to employees so they could get away from their work stations and drink coffee and chat with other workers.
We don’t know what they called these breaks, but the term “coffee break” itself did not come into use until 1952 when a couple of coffee-related organizations ran ad campaigns encouraging workers to give themselves coffee breaks during the workday.
In celebration of the coffee break, and its one hundred year anniversary, the National Coffee Association has declared this January 20 National Coffee Break Day. The NCA is encouraging everyone to take a break during the day to sit and enjoy a hot brewed drink while visiting with family, friends or co-workers.
As you celebrate, realize that not all countries provide these respites from work pressures. For related articles about coffee breaks, go to Much Ado About Coffee Breaks and Workplace Coffee.
Happy Coffee Break Day!
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