Employer Has Changed Our 'break' Time from 30 Mins Unpaid to 60 Mins Unpaid, Is This Legal?

Recently started a new job about 3 months ago, with a company that took won a new contracting gig in South Australia.
When I was offered the job and accepted, any shift that was scheduled for over 5 hours we have to take an unpaid 30 min break- we've had this in place for the last 3 months.

They've just announced that we must now take a 60 minute unpaid break if our shifts are over 6 hours.
We are of course, pretty upset by this as it adds up over the year and can't quite understand if they are allowed to do this.

Does any one know if this is legally possible in Australia? To just change our break and significantly impact our estimated income? We are on permanent part time and guaranteed 20 hours a week.

Thanks for any input/ help!

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  • +6

    What does your contract say? Unpaid lunch break is clearly stipulated in mine, check yours.

  • +17

    Are you adding 30 mins to your shift and still “working” the same number of hours?

    i.e. if previously it was a 6 hour shift you’d have been there for 6.5 hours, with a 30 min break. Now for a 6 hour shift you’re there for 7 hours with a 60 min break.

    Also - do you have a union?

  • +38

    The law say minimum 30 mins break for every 5 hours of work, not for maximum.

    It is up to you to work or quit

    • +8

      quitting is easier, vote for that

      • +1

        username checks out

  • +4

    It does not affect your income, it only affects the time you have to be physically at work (extra 30 mins at the end of the day in the workplace but that extra 30 in a meal break). Check your contract award or union

    • +31

      True, but it is an imposition on your time, and time is money.

      • +2

        except where a good break allows a worker to recharge/refresh and perform a lot better after it

        • +1

          It is still an imposition on your time, just a justifiable one.

  • +15

    60 minute unpaid break if our shifts are over 6 hours.
    To just change our break and significantly impact our estimated income?

    You're still getting paid for 6 hours, but instead of being a shift of 6.5 hours, you now have a shift for 7 hours.

    Your income hasn't changed, you're not working for 'free', either way you are paid for 6 hours.

    Take the break, eat, rest, sleep in the car, watch some youtube on your phone.

    • +22

      Or look for bargains to post on here.

    • +21

      I must have explained this poorly.
      For an 8 hour shift I was getting paid for 7.5 hours.
      I am now getting paid 7 hours and must take a 60 minute break.

      • -5

        you need to narrow down your question.

        is it a matter of time you are at work
        is it a matter of the reduce working hours
        is it a matter of reduced pay.

        but ultimately , your employer is allowed to change your work agreement , you are entitled to decline , and then things get fun.

      • +14

        Check your contract, sounds fishy, they cant just change your work hours cause they want to usually.

        • 100% you can change work hours on a whim

      • -11

        7 paid hour for 8 hrs shift is pretty standard.

        • +10

          Its standard if you started the job at that shift, not if you didn't.

      • Why don't you take your 60 minute break at the end of your shift and just go home?

        • +2

          Get to work 1 hour late and work through…

      • +10

        In that case it is a reduction in hours, a more serious issue than a change to break time. Speak to the relevant union of fair work if you are not happy with the reduction in hours.

  • read your contract, but probably legal.

    Anyway, you dont work during that "break", so go away for 1hr.

  • +41

    I feel OP. I'd hate to be contracted to essential "be" at work for 30 minutes longer than previously asked. I'd rather just smash out the day and leave instead of wasting time.

    • Agreed. But depending on the type of job the extra 30min might provide benefits not yet realised, such as a really good rest that leaves you feeling better at the end of the day

      • +3

        Yeah, if its just doing some light accounting for a small business that's one thing.
        If its doing neurosurgery in a large hospital, that's completely different.

        • +9

          Ha implying that you get a lunch break doing neurosurgery

          • +5

            @teddyp: LOL - Put that brain on ice - I'm having a break.

      • Don't make it compulsory. Everyone is different, give them the option to manage their day.

  • +7

    Ask if you can take a half hour break and leave half an hour early. So long as it’s 60 minutes or less it seems pretty standard.

    If you were being given less than your 20 hours there’d be an issue, but it could well be a whs issue to get a break, take a piss, etc. places I’ve worked with 30 minutes people are often late back when only given 30 minutes.

    • +1

      Yeah that's my approach. just take 30 mins break and leave early. But that depends on what kind of job OP has.

    • +3

      If they're the kind of employer to enforce an additional half-hour unpaid break, they'd be the kind to not look favourably on taking only half an hour and leaving early. Completely defeats the purpose.

  • +3

    If I had the option to take lunch or finish early, I would always choose to finish early. That said, I don't eat at work.
    I would be annoyed if they extended my lunch break…but is it legal? Yes

    • +1

      You don't eat at work?

      • +1

        He eats while he is working I guess :)

    • +8

      Tha'ts not true at all. I work 8 hours a day and take a 30 minute unpaid meal break. I have read my workplace agreement and it states minimum 30 not 60 minutes.

    • +4

      @ Freezies. I know you're trying to help though mixing incorrect information with some good advice just confuses things.

      If you don't know which award or EBA (if any) applies to OP then you don't know what his entitlements are. There is no general law for breaks under the Fair Work Act 2009 so not sure how you are stating one.

  • -3

    means they are good, because 30 mins is not enough to eat and rest. enjoy your time, make friends go out take picture walk run or just take nap

    • +3

      This is highly dependent on a person job and what they’re eating. Maybe if your job is hard labour and you’re cooking up your own meal or travelling from site to the local takeaway sure 30 minutes probably isn’t enough but if you work in an office and you’ve put last night left overs in the office kitchen fridge and all that it needs is couple of minutes in the microwave 30 minutes is more than enough time to eat and rest.

  • +1

    Ask worker Union.

  • Completely legal as nobody gets a paid meal break or it would be very rare. Did anyone ask why if not told why? I would find out the reason/s and then consider asking to revert to a 30 minute break with the option to take a 60 minute break if I required it.

    Do you work closely with other workers or have your own tasks to complete individually? If team work closely together on tasks, the team could ask as above if in agreement.

    • "Completely legal as nobody gets a paid meal break"

      It's what happens when the award states a 20 minute "crib" break - I've worked under 4 of them.

  • -1

    Seems reasonable by your employer. They probably want you rested when working a long shift so you can focus.

    • +12

      SOunds like it benefits the employer

  • Ring the appropriate agency to find out

  • Are they reducing your rostered paid hours to cover the 30mins additional break?

    • The rostered times are the same, but we are losing 30 minutes of paid time each shift over 6 hours.

      • +4

        So do you now getting less than the minimum 20 hours per week?
        If so, maybe ask them to increase your roster to the agreed min of 20 hours.

      • You now also gain 30 minutes on shifts greater than 5 hrs but less than 6 hrs….

            • +14

              @blibster: So you'd be happy for your employer to take almost 10% of your pay from you and give you a longer lunch break?

              • Yes, OP isn't having to be at work any longer
              • Yes, OP is getting a longer break
              • But OP may not have needed/wanted a longer break
              • And OP may need that pay that they are now losing

              It may be legal, that doesn't make it right.

              It may not bother you (you may even prefer the arrangement), but that doesn't mean it doesn't bother everyone.

              OP's employer has changed the terms of their agreement. OP can live with it, leave over it, or discuss it further with their employer (either personally or through a union).

  • +8

    I think you have worded your question poorly and the majority of people here have misunderstood. I think people have just taken your post to mean your break has increased from 30-60 mins, and your pay was unaffected.

    However, from reading your other comments, the core issue appears to be that they have changed your working day so you work 30mins less per day and accordingly pay you less. So they are dropping 2.5 hours from your pay per week, which does add up. On top of this, you don't go home any earlier, as they have just increased your break length.

    Ultimately, if your contract says a minimum 20 hours a week, and you are still over this, then there probably isnt much you can do. However, given your line of work, it probably would be worth speaking to the Union or Fair Work Australia.

  • I almost felt odd reading you are complaining about getting extra 30 minutes lunch time but when I reached the end of sentence that it is unpaid it start to make sense.

  • +4

    Take your break at the end of the shift and piss off home

    • Agree.. Do six hours of work, then leave. Tell 'em to jam it.

      • OP might want to secure another job before pulling this stunt! I’m not sure where you work but this won’t fly in most workplaces.
        As annoying as it sounds, I suspect the employer know what they did is not illegal.
        I’m lucky that where I work, we get to choose how long of a break we want with a minimum of 30 min. I find 45 min is the sweet spot especially when I don’t pack my lunch.

        • +1

          Fair enough. Yeah I work in an industry where there's a huge shortage of skilled people. I do five hour shifts myself ..

          Isn't it funny how a law that was designed to protect workers by preventing overwork just ended up benefiting the employers, in the form of unpaid overtime?

    • +30

      Nothing screems boomer more than this

      • Speaking as a boomer, nothing screams egotist more than this - most "boomers" would have appreciated the advantages of a Union, and joined…

                        • +3

                          @Magnastar: Your very first sentence:

                          Love these posts.

                          I can't interpret that in any other way other than as a referral to the OP.

                          • @ThithLord: Congratulations, you interpreted that a comment on the OP’s post was referring to the OP’s post. It won’t be long before an OAM is sitting next to your name.

                            You’re ignoring that my comment wasn’t actually suggesting the OP go in any direction, it was clearly more about me enjoying posts about kids going bananas about being asked to do a little extra for nothing.

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