Retail Award Breaks

What are the retail award breaks?

If you’re covered by the General Retail Industry Award [MA000004], The Retail Industry Award specifies certain rest and meal break entitlements for employees, which vary depending on the duration of their shift. To ensure compliance and fair compensation for your employees, it’s crucial to accurately track and schedule retail award breaks and pay accordingly.

The minimum break requirements in the general retail industry award breaks

  • A rest break consists of a 10-minute paid pause, which is considered as time worked.
  • A meal break lasts between 30 to 60 minutes and is unpaid, except for shift workers.
  • Meal breaks for shift workers are compensated and considered as time worked.

The number of breaks an employee receives depends on the hours they actually work, not their scheduled hours.  An employee who works for more than 5 hours must get at least 1 meal break.

Number of hours worked Rest breaks Meal breaks

Less  than 4 hours

0 0

4 or more hours -5 hours

1 0
More than 5 – less than 7 hours 1


7 or more hours – less than 10 hours 2


10 or more hours 2


What should employers take note of regarding retail breaks?

The timing and duration of breaks are included in an employee’s schedule. This means that employees must be informed of when they should take their breaks and for how long.

An employee receiving two rest breaks must take one break during the first half of their shift and the other break during the second half.

Employees cannot be required to:

(1) Take a rest or meal break within one hour of starting or finishing work.

(2) Combine a rest break with a meal break.

(3) Work for more than five hours without a meal break.

Employees are not entitled to additional payment, such as penalty rates, if they do not receive a meal break.

In addition, employers should also pay attention to breaks between shifts. Employees are entitled to a minimum break of 12 hours between the end of one workday and the beginning of the next. However, both the employer and the employee can mutually agree to reduce this minimum break to 10 hours. Employees who do not receive a 12-hour break between shifts (or a 10-hour break if agreed upon) and commence their next shift at the usual time are compensated at 200% of their usual pay rate, including any applicable penalty rates or overtime, until they are released to take the required break. Casual employees receive their casual loading plus 200% of the base rate and any penalties or overtime until they are released for the break.

Upon eventually receiving the minimum break between shifts, employees are paid their standard pay rate for any ordinary hours they do not work during the break.

When employees receive a 12-hour break between shifts (or 10 hours as agreed) but start work later than their usual shift the next day to fulfil the break requirement, they are compensated for all hours worked. Additionally, they receive their standard pay rate for the hours between their original rostered start time and the actual start time.

How can Workstem assist you?

Simplify your payroll processes with Workstem’s all-in-one platform, handling onboarding, time and attendance, award interpretation, payroll, STP 2, superannuation and more.

Customise attendance entitlements, auto-track attendance data, streamline the payment process and keep compliance with Fair Work award through our AI Engine. Workstem provides a complete solution for efficient payroll management and regulatory compliance.

Read More:

Updated Retail Award Rates: What You Need to Know

Case Study 1: Revealing the Difference Between Woolworths’ EBA and Retail Award

Enhanced Retail Scheduling: Rostering System for Australia

Managing Retail Payroll: Best Practices and Guidelines