Breaks

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.

Manufacturing Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010 [MA000010].

An employee who works for more than 5 hours must get at least 1 meal break.

Employees in the technical field of work, technical workers, tracers and draughtspersons, production planners, trainee engineers and trainee scientist employees are entitled to 1 paid 10 minute rest break each morning.

Continuous shiftworkers are entitled to a 20 minute paid meal break each shift and count as time worked.

Check the Manufacturing Award for information about extra breaks in certain situations and for some employees engaged on ship trials.

Taking breaks

The time to take breaks and the length of breaks form part of an employee’s roster. This means an employee has to be told about when to take their breaks and how long they are.

Employees can't be asked to work more than 5 hours without a meal break.

Check clause 38.1 of the Manufacturing Award for information on when an employee can be asked to work up to 6 hours without a meal break. 

When a meal break isn't given

An employee will be paid their normal rate for their break, if they are told by their employer to work during their break because of:

  • any breakdown of a plant, or
  • routine maintenance of a plant which can only be done while the plant is idle.

Otherwise, if an employee doesn't get their meal break when they are supposed to they have to be paid time and a half from the time of their scheduled meal break until they get a meal break.

Breaks between shifts after working overtime

Employees who work overtime have to get a minimum break of 10 hours between finishing work on one day and starting work the next day.

This minimum break between shifts applies only after an employee works overtime.

An employer and employee can agree to reduce the break to between 8 and 10 hours.

Breaks between shifts after working overtime - shiftworkers

The minimum break between shifts applies when overtime is worked because of:

  • changing shift rosters
  • another employee replacing a shiftworker who doesn't work their shift, or
  • employees agreeing to swap shifts.

A shiftworker who works overtime has to get a minimum break of 8 hours between finishing work on one day and starting work on the next day. 

If an employee doesn't get a break between shifts

When employees (other than casuals) don’t get a 10 hour break (or 8 hours for shiftworkers) between shifts and they start at their normal shift time the next day they get paid:

  • double time for the hours they work, until they are released from duty to have a 10 hour break between shifts (or 8 hours for shiftworkers) and
  • when they eventually get their break between shifts, the ordinary hourly pay rate for any ordinary hours they don't work because they are taking the break.

When employees (other than casuals) don’t get a 10 hour break (or 8 hours for shiftworkers) between shifts but start work later than their normal shift the next day so they get a break they get paid:

  • for all the hours they work
  • the ordinary pay rate for the hours between when they were originally rostered to start work and when they actually started work.

Example: When employees have to start later to get a break between shifts

Alice is a full-time employee who works ordinary hours:

  • 9am – 6pm on Monday – Thursday
  • 6am – 2pm on Friday.

She is entitled to a 10 hour break between shifts.

Alice’s employer asks her to work an extra 3 hours on Thursday so that she finishes at 9pm. If she starts work on Friday at her normal time of 6am she will only get a 9 hour break.

If Alice starts work at:

  • 6am on Friday, then she will be paid double the ordinary hourly pay rate for all hours worked on Friday
  • 7am on Friday, then she will be paid the ordinary pay rate for the hours she:
    • didn’t work from 6am – 7am (because this hour is part of her ordinary hours)
    • worked from 7am – 2pm.

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

Source reference: Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010 [MA000010] clauses 36.3, 38 and 40.4 external-icon.png  

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