Take your breaks

As an employee is it vital that you take proper rest breaks and meal breaks as per your Enterprise Agreement or Award.

A rest break is a paid break which allows an employee to rest for a short period of time during their work hours. It can also be referred to as a crib break (generally 20 minutes), rest pause or tea break. A rest break is generally 10 minutes (not including walking time) or 15 minutes duration (including walking time).

A meal break, commonly known as a lunch break, is unpaid and is a longer period of uninterrupted rest that allows the employee to eat a meal.

The break structure is negotiated between your company and the SDA on the employees’ behalf to give your body a rest at regular intervals, ensuring your safety and wellbeing.

Studies have shown that breaks ensure employees:

  • do not lose concentration, thereby reducing the risk of injury;
  • maintain acceptable work output; and
  • are better able to deal with customers.

These breaks are separate to a toilet visit or getting a drink, and such requests cannot be unreasonably refused.

Your breaks should not be taken within an hour of starting or finishing your shift, or within an hour of another break. It is also unacceptable for employers to change an employee’s roster to avoid giving them a break.

Employers may use reasons such as:

  • “we don't have enough staff”
  • “we are too busy”
  • “if you skip your break you can go home early”.

However your employer cannot deny you a break for any reason.

Check your Enterprise Agreement or Award and ensure you know your break entitlements.

Your Enterprise Agreement should be displayed within your workplace and accessible for all team members. It is often found in the team/lunch room or on the noticeboard and it is your right to read this document.

If you are unable to locate your Enterprise Agreement/Award or have any questions contact the Newcastle SDA office on 4961 4694.

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