Arniston Spa Hotel

Breakfast and tea breaks in Agriculture

There is some confusion about whether “breakfast and tea times”, especially in Agriculture, are paid or not. As such we have put this to the Department of Labour. They responded as follows:

Continuous work may not be more than 5 hours, but can be less before an unpaid meal interval is given, usually 60 minutes in length. The act (BCEA) as well as sectoral determination 13 (for agriculture) is silent on the issue of breakfast and tea times, so it will be regulated by the contract. Wage is money due in respect of ordinary hours of work. The employee’s ordinary hours of work can be agreed to in a contract. If it specifies that a meal interval will be 60 minutes, it means that the “extra” meal interval (breakfast) can be unpaid.

Another option is the following: Clause 18 (4) however states that work is continuous unless interrupted by a meal interval, (which may be reduced to 30 minutes by agreement). So reducing the lunch meal interval from 60 minutes to 30 minutes and then utilising the other 30 minutes as either breakfast or tea times, or both, will mean that such a break may be paid. A third option is to only have a 30 minute paid meal break (potentially split in two tea times) with all other breaks as unpaid.

Here is an example of a Working day

from 07:00 to 17:30 = 10.5 hours

07:00 to 08:00    1 hour work (paid)

08:00 to 08:30    30 min meal break (unpaid)

08:30 to 11:00    2.5 hours work (paid)

11:00 to 11:15    15 min Tea/smoke break (paid)

11:15 to 13:00    1 hour 45 min work (paid)

13:00 to 14:00    1 hour meal break (unpaid)

14:00 to 16:00    2 hours work (paid)

16:00 to 16:15    15 min Tea/smoke break (paid)

16:15 to 17:30    1 hour 15 min work (paid)

9 paid hours of work daily (45 hours work in a five-day week)

Please note that the above is an example only. We recommend a shorter working day, without a “breakfast”.

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