Advice for DiTs on meal breaks



What is a Meal Break?

A meal break is an uninterrupted rest period that allows Junior Medical Officers to eat a meal.

The meal break period for NSW Health is 30 minutes, except in circumstances where you have other agreed arrangements with your Management for a longer period of time (not exceeding one hour)

What if I can’t have my unpaid Meal Break during a Monday to Friday Day Shift?

While it is strongly encouraged that all Junior Medical Officers take their allocated meal breaks, it is acknowledged that there are circumstances where this may not be possible. In these circumstances, payment should be given for the time worked during the unpaid meal break.

Management must have a simply process in place for you to be able to claim your meal break on Monday to Friday day shift, if you are unable to take this break.

As we have been dealing with the LHD’s regarding unpaid meal breaks, we have also been ensuring that there is a simple process in place for each LHD.

Am I paid for Meal Breaks on all other shifts?

The Ministry of Health have in place Circular no 83/250, which states that:

Because of the widespread difficulty in officers leaving hospital premises (including the taking of meal breaks) during ‘Out of hours shifts’, it has been decided that except where agreement is reached between a hospital and the Association in respect to arrangements for the taking of meal breaks (in which case the time involved shall not count as time worked), henceforth in all shifts other than Monday to Friday day shifts, all time an officer is required to be in attendance shall be regarded as working time and paid for accordingly. Payment for the whole of the elapsed time between the starting and the finishing time of the shifts will be made irrespective of whether the work is overtime or forms part of the officer’s normal hours.

This allows for the meal breaks of all shifts outside of a Monday to Friday Day Shift, including Weekend, Evening and Night Shifts and Public Holidays to be paid to Junior Medical Officers regardless if the break is taken or not.

However, it is strongly encouraged that Junior Medical Officers still take their meal break in the interests of patient care and their own health and welfare.

Who should I contact if I have any concerns?

Any concerns regarding your meal breaks should be referred to your facility’s JMO and/or Medical Workforce Unit in the first instance. If you have any difficulties in getting paid this time and require assistance contact us via ASMOF Allocation (