Hours of work, breaks and rosters

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements have rules about an employee's:

  • hours of work
  • breaks
  • rosters
  • rostered days off.

Hours of work

Ordinary hours are an employee's normal and regular hours of work, which don't attract overtime rates.

Ordinary hours can be different for full-time, part-time and casual employees.

The time of the day ordinary hours are worked is called the spread of hours (for example, between 7am – 7pm). Time worked outside the spread of ordinary hours can attract overtime rates.

See Hours of work for more information on:

  • maximum and minimum hours of work
  • the spread of hours in your award.

When overtime applies

Overtime is when an employee works extra time. It can include time worked:

  • on top of the ordinary hours of work
  • outside the agreed number of hours
  • outside the spread of ordinary hours.

For information about when overtime applies in your award, see When overtime applies.


Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements provide for paid and unpaid rest breaks and meal breaks for employees.

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

For more information about the minimum break requirements in your industry, see Breaks.


A roster is a timetable that shows the days and times employees are required to work.

Awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements can set rules about changing rosters and how and when employees are given rosters.

For more information about rosters in your award, see Rosters.

Rostered days off

A rostered day off (RDO) is a day in a roster period that an employee doesn't have to work.

An employee's day off can be paid or unpaid, depending on how RDOs are set out in an award or registered agreement.

For more information about RDOs in your award, see Rostered days off.

Tools and resources

Related information

Have a workplace problem?

Problems can happen in any workplace. If you have a workplace problem, we have tools and information to help you resolve it.

Check out our Fixing a workplace problem section for practical information about:

  • working out if there is a problem
  • speaking with your employer or employee about fixing the problem
  • getting help from us if you can't fix the problem.