“Pauza” is a critical part of our lives, whether we know it or not. It can be a break from work, a rest for your brain, an intermission during a theater performance or sports match, a hiatus from a relationship, a moment to catch your breath while exercising, or sometimes a complete time-out from your life.
Pauza, which means “break” in Croatian, is defined as a brief period when you stop doing something. One cannot live in Croatia without fully appreciating and understanding the indispensable pauza.
The most frequently used Croatian synonyms for pauza are:
There are so many types of pauza. Let’s dig deeper into the most common cases when pauza is used in Croatia, because we like to use it a lot!
Čik-pauza is a cigarette break. The term “čik” refers to the filter of a cigarette. Smokers use this term frequently but sometimes it is even used by non-smokers as a casual term for a quick break.
Čik-pauza usually takes about 5-10 minutes. Some like to prolong it as much as they can to chat with someone. Others just smoke a cigarette quickly to fulfill their needs and get back to work or whatever they are doing. Usually people don’t even have to ask a colleague to go together to čik-pauza. Coworkers tend to have a finely tuned routine. When the time is right for a break, a simple eye gesture invite is enough to signal that it’s time for an escape.
Pauza na poslu or pauza od posla (a work break) is a casual long break during the working day. According to the Croatian law on labor, every worker who works six or more hours per day has the right to a 30-minute break. This working break is calculated into working hours and must be paid.
If an employer doesn’t give a break to his employees, he is committing a serious misdemeanor. Be familiar with your rights as a worker and raise an alarm if your employer forbids you to go on a break “because there is a lot of work to do”.
Pauza from work usually lasts for 30 minutes, but some are lucky to have a longer break – up to one hour. To be honest, 30 minutes is barely enough to take lunch.
The lucky ones have the privilege of prolonging pauza a bit. While it may be written in your contract that you have a 30-minute break, you may stay for 45 minutes or an hour. Longer pauza mostly depends on good bosses who also appreciate the value of pauza.
There is another working pauza specifically for new mothers. After new mothers return to work, before the child turns one year, they are entitled to take a 2-hour pauza each day to breastfeed or handle any additional mother duties. Both parents are allowed to legally “pause” their employment until the child turns three years old.
Lastly, if you’re wondering why some shops have odd choppy working hours, it’s because of pauza. Perhaps they are open until noon, then close for four hours before reopening later in the day. These are usually independently-owned shops where the owner also runs the place, so they can easily dictate their working hours. This extended break gives them time to go home for a big lunch with their family and even get in a nap before returning to work in the late afternoon.
All of us from the working class can’t wait for godišnji odmor (a vacation). From time to time, everyone needs an extended rest from work of at least a week…hopefully two…preferably three. To properly rest and reset, a two weeks rest from our daily routine is obligatory.
Godišnji odmor is not just for workers, but for companies too. Many restaurants and shops will close annually for a few weeks in low season (during winter on the coast, during summer in Zagreb) so the entire staff can rest and/or so the owners can renovate, or both.
When you need a break simply because you’re exhausted or your brain doesn’t work anymore, then that qualifies as a casual, run-of-the-mill pauza. Whether you are gardening, doing hard manual work, or trying to clean the whole house in one day, you will need a break from time to time.
The best pauza occur when you’re doing something in a group. Maybe you’re on a hike, or picking olives, or helping a friend move. At some point, all of you will need a break. When that time comes, everyone sits down for a chat and a drink, which may lead to a party. Zašto ne?
Another break people often need when they are at home is odmor nakon ručka (after-lunch break). This pauza is just for enjoying coffee together with čašica razgovora (“a cup of conversation” or chit chat) with friends or family.
Also, some people can’t survive the day without taking an afternoon nap. They are either tired from the working week, a bit older or just like to sleep when they have the opportunity.
Don’t forget to rest
All of us need pauza.
Never forget that both your brain and body need periodic rest to function normally. People often push themselves until they burst, and then it’s too late. Take a daily pause and have at least half an hour for yourself. Life is simply better with pauza.
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.