Office of Pre-Primary Education and Childcare


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Meal and rest break legal requirements and issues

buncoffeeAre you a teacher? If you hold a personal membership you can find specific information for teachers on meal and rest break entitlements in the All Members section of our website

The information in the article below is specifically for our ECE Service members 


The new laws coming in May 2019, are a roll back to the pre-2015 position requiring staff to be given breaks. It means that staff will no longer be seen to be letting each other and children down when they go off for a coffee or toilet break or lunch. The changes support health and safety. 

If staff numbers at your service only just meet the minimum adult-child ratio requirement then you will need to look at hiring more staff to cover those on rest and meal breaks.

You may not want all your staff to take breaks at the same time. Therefore, carefully consider the timing of breaks and with the agreement of staff record break times in employment agreements.  (see below on the timing of breaks when an employer and employee do not agree)

Check all current employment agreements to be sure that all agreements reflect and do not breach the new law on the number breaks that must be given.


  1. Why early childhood services are not exempt and offering compensation is a no
  2. Payment for breaks
  3. Breaks that must be given depending on work hours
  4. Timing of rest breaks and meal breaks if there is agreement and when there is not agreement
  5. Strict rostering versus occasional flexible timing
  6. Problems or questions?

To keep reading, login with your ECE Service's member username and password.  If you don't know what your service's login is ask your manager or team leader Smile

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