Skip to content


Work is becoming busier and more demanding and that is why breaks are essential for retail, fast food and warehouse workers.

Every SDA-negotiated Agreement and Award contains specific provisions at work that requires you to have breaks.

Your Agreement or Award details your entitlement to unpaid meal breaks and paid rest / tea breaks.

Tea breaks are generally paid breaks that are available for shifts often from 4 hours work or longer.

Meal breaks are unpaid breaks that are generally 30 – 60 minutes long. They should form part of your roster.

You have an absolute right to receive and take them when they fall due.

Taking your paid rest / tea break does not take away your right to take toilet or water breaks throughout your shift.

Employers may not:
» Deny employees their breaks because there are not enough staff;
» Tell employees that they have to take their break at the end of their shift;
» Require an employee who has gone on their break to come back to work; or
» Reduce the length of an employee’s break to a period that’s less than provided for in their Agreement or Award.

Your Agreement or Award covers your wages and conditions at work including details of your breaks.
Your employer is obliged to know what these entitlements are and apply them to all employees.
If you want to know what your break entitlements are, speak to your SDA Delegate or SDA Union Organiser.

You can also find the contact detials of your local SDA branch by clicking the contact button at the top of this page.

Breaks are enforceable and the SDA will help any member to get their breaks.

The SDA’s expert team – including SDA Union Organisers and SDA Lawyers are available to make sure you get your full set of entitlements.

The contact details of you Local SDA Branch can be found here.

Breaks are not optional extras. They must be taken and cannot be withdrawn by your employer!

Not an SDA Member?