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.

Storage and Wholesale Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the Storage Services and Wholesale Award [MA000084].

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 2 rest breaks and 1 meal break each day.

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

Taking breaks

An employee who gets 2 rest breaks has to take 1 break in the first half of their shift, and the other break in the second half of their shift at times fixed by the employer.

Employees can't be asked to:

  • take a rest break within 1 hour of starting or finishing work
  • take a rest break within 1 hour before or after the meal break.

When a meal break isn't given

There is no extra payment (eg. penalty rate) for not getting 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 1 day and starting work the next day.

This minimum break between shifts applies:

  • after an employee works overtime and
  • when it's reasonable practicable.

For breaks when working overtime, see When overtime applies.

If an employee doesn't get a break between shifts

If the employer instructs an employee to work so they don’t get a 10 hour break between shifts when working overtime and they start at their normal shift time the next day they get paid:

  • double time for the hours they work, until they're released from duty to have a 10 hour break between shifts
  • 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 get a 10 hour break 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:

  • 8:30am - 6:30pm on Monday - Thursday
  • 7am - 3pm on Friday. 

She is entitled to a 10 hour break between shifts.

Alice’s employer asks her to work an extra 4½ on Thursday so that she finishes at 10pm. If she starts work on Friday at her normal time of 7am she will only get 9 hours break.

If Alice starts work at:

  • 7am on Friday, then she will be paid double the ordinary hourly pay rate for all hours worked on Friday
  • 8am on Friday, then she will be paid the ordinary pay rate for the hours she:
    • didn't work from 7am - 8am (because this hour is part of her ordinary hours)
    • worked from 8am - 3pm.

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

Source reference: Storage Services and Wholesale Award [MA000084] clauses 14 and 21.4 external-icon.png

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