The Cleaning Award requires that you provide your employees with certain meal and rest breaks. Break entitlements depend on whether your employee is a shiftworker or not.

All paid breaks are considered time worked, while all unpaid breaks are not.


Non-shiftworkers (or day workers) are entitled to an unpaid meal break of 30 - 60 minutes. Your cleaning employees can’t be asked to work for more than 4 and a half hours without a meal break except in cases of emergency when the time can be extended up to 5 hours.

All day workers and broken shift workers (employees who work 2 shifts in 1 day) are entitled to a 10 minute paid morning break and a 10 minute paid afternoon break.


Under the Cleaning Award, you must provide your shiftworkers with a paid meal break of at least 20 minutes between 4 and 5 hours after they start work.

Full-time employees working an unbroken shift are entitled to a further 10 minute paid tea break.

All cleaning employees

If your cleaning employee is interrupted during their meal break and asked to return to work, they will be entitled to be paid at overtime rates for all work done until they return to their meal break.

An employee who works overtime is allowed a paid meal break of 20 minutes after each 4 hours of overtime worked.


Mario is a full-time cleaner working an afternoon shift. Mario’s ordinary hours are 3.00pm to 11.00pm, Monday to Friday (eight hours per shift). Mario is unsure of what breaks he is entitled to under the Cleaning Award.

Under the Cleaning Award, Mario is entitled to receive a paid meal break of at least 20 minutes after he has worked 4 hours, but not more than 5 hours after starting his shift. He is also entitled to a further 10 minute paid tea break.

Break between shifts

You must give your employees a break of at least 8 hours (in a row) between the end of a shift and the start of work the next day. Each employee is also entitled to 2 full days off in a row within each 7 day cycle.

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Page last updated: 17 Sep 2010