Time to Claim for No Meal Breaks

09 March 2016

The Public Service Association (PSA) wrote to the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI) on 5 January 2016 to confirm that there was no workplace flexibility agreement in place from that date as regards meal breaks. From that date DCSI were obligated to follow the current Enterprise Agreement.

DCSI did not respond to the PSA letter, and attempted to negotiate directly with staff despite requiring the agreement of the PSA to progress a workplace flexibility agreement.

Therefore, if PSA members believe they have not been provided a meal/crib break there exists the potential to claim for these since the ending of the workplace flexibility agreement on 5 January 2016. We encourage members to read the conditions for penalties of the meal/crib break-clause 21 of the current Enterprise Agreement.

Any claim should be made in writing (an email suffices) to your line management and include a summary of all shifts worked where a meal or crib break was not provided, requesting that the appropriate penalties are paid. Advise your Worksite Representative that a claim has been made.

If intending to make a claim and considering whether you have been provided a crib break members should consider the following;


  • Full duties of supervision in the high risk environment is not viewed as a break (such as supervising young people at meal times).
  • However, downtime where you are available to respond if necessary but with reduced duties and no/reduced supervision aspects could be considered a crib break (i.e. having downtime in office, a quiet PM or night shift where able to have a reduced period).
  • Do note the time when a 'break occurred' (if at the end of a shift, penalties maybe claimed).
  • Break periods should be 30 minutes. If an interruption occurs the break period(s) should equate to 30 minutes in total. An interrupted break should be completed at a later time. If not, penalties maybe payable.
  • Not every moment you are away from residents is part of a crib break. It is time spent having a break (not having a sip of water while moving through units etc).


Any unsatisfactory responses/denials of claims should then be reported in writing to your PSA reps who will document and provide the PSA with the list of unpaid claims.

Into the future also consider using the AYTC variation book for claims for each shift (or as a way of keeping evidence and making future claims) but remember to keep a copy of your claim (and any response from management).