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.

Horticulture Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the Horticulture Award [MA000028].

A rest break is a 10 minute paid break that counts as time worked.

A meal break is a 30 - 60 minute unpaid break that doesn't count as time worked. 

An employee gets 1 rest break and 1 meal break each day. They can agree with their employer to take an extra unpaid rest break each day.

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

Taking breaks

The meal break has to be taken no later than five hours after starting work or at a time agreed to between the employer and employee. 

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

When a meal break isn't given

If an employee is told to work during their meal break they have to be paid 200% of their ordinary hourly rate for the time they work until they get a meal break.

Breaks between shifts

Employees have to get a minimum break of 10 hours between finishing work on 1 day and starting work on the next day or shift. Work includes any reasonable additional hours or overtime.

This minimum break between shifts applies after the additional hours or overtime finish on that day.

If an employee doesn't get a break between shifts

When employees don't get a 10-hour break between shifts and they start at their normal shift time the next day they get paid the relevant overtime pay rate for the hours they work, until they are released from duty to have a 10 hour break between shifts.


We’ve made it easier for you to find information about pay and entitlements under the Horticulture Award. For more tailored information about your award, visit our Horticulture Showcase.

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

Source reference: Horticulture Award [MA000028] clause 14 external-icon.png

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