Home - Meal breaks
April 24, 2017

I would just like to clarify meal break requirements under the Fair Work Act. I have heard different claims, e.g. a requirement to have a meal break after 5 hours except in certain circumstances. Are there minimum statutory break entitlements in the FW Act?

Also, does a 15-minute morning tea beak constitute a break or must there still be a lunch break after no more than 5 hours of work including the morning tea break?

The entitlement to a 30-minute meal break is not provided in the Fair Work Act. Modern awards generally include provisions for meal breaks (some of these are for paid meal breaks if the employee is required to work for more than 5 hours after being given an unpaid meal break) so you can check your specific award.

The standard across the board though is to provide any employee who works more than 5 hours with an unpaid meal break of a minimum of 30 minutes. Unpaid meal breaks are not included in calculations of an employee’s ordinary hours of work.

Remember, if you are a non-national system employer in WA, you are obliged to recognise minimum statutory entitlements to meal breaks.

Note: There is no statutory entitlement to tea breaks. You need to check the applicable award to see what if any provision is made for this. Tea or rest breaks are generally paid breaks.

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