Broken Shift Allowance

The SCHADS Award is a crucial component of Australia’s social welfare system, the disability support sector provides vital assistance and care to individuals living with disabilities. The sector encompasses a diverse range of services aimed at empowering individuals with disabilities to lead fulfilling and independent lives. 

 

What is a broken shift?

A broken shift is characterised by two distinct work periods within a single day, separated by one unpaid interval, excluding meal breaks.

If an employee is assigned to a broken shift, they are eligible for the broken shift allowance outlined in either clause 20.12 (a) or (b), depending on the number of unpaid intervals in the shift.

It’s important to note that broken shifts are applicable solely to social and community services employees engaged in disability services work and home care. Employees in other sectors under the award cannot be scheduled for such shifts.

 

Can you have a broken shift with more than two periods of work?

The award does allow for a broken shift to have up to 3 periods of work (2 unpaid periods between work). This can only be rostered by agreement with the employee. This is the maximum number of periods of work a broken shift can contain.

 

Is there a limit to the span of hours that a broken shift can be rostered?

The duration of a broken shift spans up to 12 hours. The Award stipulates that any work exceeding this 12-hour period must be compensated at double time. However, it is advisable for an employer not to intentionally roster a broken shift exceeding 12 hours.

Is there a minimum length of time an employee must work for each part of the broken shift?

Minimum engagement periods apply to each part of a broken shift, namely:

  • 3 hours for social and community services employees (except when undertaking disability services work);
  • 2 hours for all other employees


This signifies that employees must be scheduled or compensated for at least these hours in any shift or part of a broken shift. Additionally, the standard rules regarding meal breaks apply during a broken shift.

For instance, considering an employee entitled to a minimum payment of 2 hours per engagement, the following arrangement could occur concerning meal breaks:

  • 1st part of the broken shift – 2 hours
  • 2nd part of the broken shift – 2 hours
  • 3rd part of the broken shift – 1.5 hours and 30 minute unpaid break (2 hours total)*

* At the five hour mark (1 hour into the 3rd part of the broken shift), the employee is entitled to an unpaid meal break of at least 30 minutes. Under the new rules, the unpaid meal break counts towards the minimum engagement, meaning this obligation has also been met in this example.

 

Can you roster a broken shift including a sleepover?

This is a roster pattern that commonly arises and causes some confusion. However, a broken shift has a limited span of 12 hours. Therefore, since a sleepover must last for an uninterrupted 8-hour period, it is improbable for a broken shift to incorporate a sleepover without violating the award rules. Typically, we treat these clauses as operating separately.

 

How HR Connect can help

If you require assistance with Award interpretation, compliance advice, disciplinary issues concerning staff, HR Connect can help. Our HR Advisors will be able to guide you through each step of the process and provide template documents as part of our subscription packages.

 

 

About HR Connect

HR Connect is one of Australia’s leading providers of HR & workplace safety advice services, designed to help small business owners make confident and compliant business decisions.

 

Disclaimer

The information provided in these knowledge base articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact HR Connect for advice. The information in this summary is correct as of August 2021.

This article will change over time, as Modern Award legislation relating to this Industry or Occupation is passed by the Fair Work Commission. Originally published on 20 February 2024.

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