Rest breaks and meal breaks

A rest break allows an employee to rest for a short period of time during work hours. Rest breaks are also referred to as 'crib breaks', 'rest pauses' or 'tea breaks'.

A meal break is a longer period of uninterrupted rest that allows the employee to eat a meal.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements provide for paid and unpaid rest breaks and meal breaks, including:

  • the length of the breaks
  • when they need to be taken
  • the rules about payment.

Breaks between shifts

Awards and registered agreements may provide for a minimum amount of time off between the end of one shift and the start of another.

To find information about the minimum break requirements in your industry, please select from the list below.

Hospitality Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the Hospitality Industry (General) Award [MA000009].

Rest breaks

A rest break is a 20 minute paid break that counts as time worked.

An employee gets:

  • 1 paid break if they work more than 8 hours
  • 2 paid breaks if they work over 10 hours.

An employee can choose to have 2 paid 10 minute breaks instead of 1 paid break.

Meal breaks

A meal break is a 30 minute unpaid break that doesn't count as time worked.

An employee gets 1 meal break if they work more than 6 hours.

An employee who works for more than 5 hours and up to six hours can choose to get 1 unpaid meal break

Check the Hospitality Award for information about different break entitlements in certain situations.

Taking breaks

The unpaid meal break may be taken between the second and sixth hour of the shift, for shifts of more than 6 hours.

For a shift of 8 hours or more the meal breaks and rest breaks should be spread evenly across a shift.

Employees can’t be asked to:

  • take their unpaid break within 2 hours of starting work or later than 6 hours after starting
  • work more than 6 hours without a meal break.

When a meal break isn't given

If an employee doesn't get their meal break when they are supposed to, they have to be paid time and a half from when they have worked 6 hours until they get a meal break.

Breaks between rostered ordinary shifts

Employees (other than casuals) have to get a minimum break of 10 hours between finishing work on one day and starting work the next day.

An employer can reduce the break to 8 hours when there is a changeover of rosters.

Check the Hospitality Award for information about other shift break entitlements in certain situations.

To find out more about who this award applies to, go to the Hospitality Award summary.

Source reference: Hospitality Industry (General) Award [MA000009] clauses 15.5 and 16 external-icon.png

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