Meal breaks


What is a Meal Break?

A meal break is an uninterrupted rest period that allows Medical Officers (DiTs) to eat a meal. The key entitlement to a meal break is contained in Clause 10 of the Public Hospital Medical Officers (State) Award 2019

For day shifts Monday to Friday the Award says:

  • In the interests of patient care and the health and welfare of medical staff, officers must have a break from duty for the purpose of taking a meal.
  • This break must be 30 minutes except where locally agreed arrangements for a longer period are made (which shall not exceed one hour).
  • If you are required to work during your meal break you must be paid for the time worked.
  • Medical Administrators are to establish simple and effective procedures in consultation with officers to record when staff are required to work through their meal break and to ensure that payment is made.

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

All DiTs should try and take their meal break, but it is acknowledged that there are occasions where this may not be possible. In these circumstances, payment will be given for the time worked during the unpaid meal break. If you are required to work through your meal break, to ensure you are paid appropriately, you need to make sure this is clearly noted on your timesheet as unrostered overtime.

Am I paid for Meal Breaks on all other shifts?

The arrangements outlined in Circular No. 83/250 of 19 August 1983 in relation to meal breaks during shifts other than Day Shifts, Monday to Friday, apply and state 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 to be paid to Junior Medical Officers regardless of whether they are worked or not.

Who should I contact if I have any concerns?

If you have any questions about your meal breaks contact us at .