QHA members who have attached or detached bottleshops are encouraged to review this article to check that they are compliant in the breaks provided to staff.

Employee’s break entitlements are provided by industrial instruments such as modern awards and enterprise agreements. The QHA’s Guide, available HERE (Meal Breaks Under the HIGA - January 2023), details the break entitlements under the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2020 (‘HIGA’).

Given that bottleshop employees may work alone, employers will need to make arrangements to ensure that employees can take their break/s. Importantly, break entitlements must be provided as uninterrupted time. This means where an employee is entitled to a paid or unpaid break, the employee needs to be provided this time as a full uninterrupted break, and should not be required to also serve customers during their break.

Under the HIGA, if during an employee’s shift of more than 6 hours, the employer does not allow an employee to take unpaid meal break, then the employer must pay the employee a break not taken penalty.

To avoid having to pay this penalty and to ensure that employees can be provided their full break entitlements for an uninterrupted period, QHA members are encouraged to consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Requiring a manager or bar staff to work at the bottleshop to allow employees to take their breaks; or
  • Rostering staff to ensure that there is enough coverage for all bottleshop staff to take their breaks uninterrupted, such as rostering a casual to provide coverage during break times; or
  • Where these options are not possible, closing the bottleshop for the period of the employee’s break and putting a sign on the door.


Employers can roster staff taking into consideration the break entitlements. For example, the entitlement under the HIGA to an unpaid meal break of no less than 30 minutes is only enlivened if an employee works more than 6 hours of work. If an employee is not required to work more than 6 hours, there is no break entitlement.

If employers receive requests from employees who would prefer to work through their break, the QHA encourages that employers to discuss with the employee the importance of having a break. This ensures that the employer is meeting its obligations under the HIGA and obligations under work health and safety laws. We encourage you to contact the Employment Relations Department if this is a common occurrence in your workplace.

Further Information

Members who wish to gain further information on break entitlements are encouraged to review the QHA’s Guide on Meal Breaks under the HIGA, which is linked in this email, and to contact the Employment Relations Department with any queries for a confidential discussion by calling 07 3221 6999 or emailing er@qha.org.au.