The Employment Court Supports Your Right to a Crib Break

15 November 2019

The Public Service Association (PSA) is very pleased to inform members that the South Australian Employment Court has delivered a positive decision about the crib break underpayment claim that was lodged in January 2018.

The matter was heard on 19 and 20 August 2019, with Deputy President Lieschke delivering his decision this week about your right to a crib break and the entitlement to be paid penalties if a crib break totally 30 minutes is not made available.

Deputy President Lieschke concluded that the wording in the South Australian Modern Public Sector Enterprise Agreement: Salaried 2017 (SAMPSEAS) requires a crib break to be at least 30 minutes, which can be interrupted and then resumed, and that the penalty is applied until a total 30 minutes break has been completed.

The decision interprets the clause in SAMPSEAS to mean that the employer must provide a working arrangement that is sufficiently organised and recognised to enable a break to be taken by employees on a daily or regular basis. It is not reasonable for employees to be required to make their own ad hoc arrangements without the support of their supervisors or relief staff to maintain the staffing ratio.

The decision confirms that claims for penalty payments were made by our three test case applicants. Correspondence sent by the PSA to the Department on 13 October 2015 making a claim on behalf of members was taken by the Court as a key date for back payment of the penalty. Deputy President Lieschke states that a specific claim for each and every shift is not not required as ‘the department was fully aware of the claims for penalty payments on account of no breaks after five hours from when each applicant first raised the issue and from their union’s claim…’

The PSA is preparing to meet with government representatives to discuss the decision and to obtain the required information to quantify the claim for everyone named at the beginning of the case. The Court will set another date to hear about the specific amount of the claim and to make final orders.

The PSA will keep members updated regularly as developments happen.

A copy of the decision can be found here.