Ah, the sad desk lunch. The cornerstone of the American economy. A Slim-Fast gone in less than 45 seconds, perhaps. A wilted, hastily scarfed salad enjoyed in the harsh light of one’s dual monitor setup. A pasta dish that you don’t even bother reheating because you don’t want to walk past the sales department to the office microwave. Since the dawn of the cubicle, American office workers have been slurping down lunch as fast as humanly possible in order to return to work without missing a beat. That’s not the case in France, where companies that allowed employees to eat lunch at their desks were subject to a fine—until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Allow me to explain: The French Labor Ministry recently said it will allow French employees to eat lunch at their desks in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, The New York Times reports. The practice was previously forbidden under the French labor code, which subjected employer and employees to disciplinary action if employees were caught eating at their desks. This section of the labor code presumably encouraged a midday break to stretch, unplug, eat a baguette, whatever the French need to do to recharge their batteries. Now, employees are allowed to eat at their desks as long as they stay at least six feet apart.
Allowing desk lunches is just one of the ways the French government has reinforced workplace virus containment measures, including encouraging remote work and keeping in-office workers as far apart as possible. Here’s hoping that the sad desk lunch disappears as soon as the virus is contained.