Know Your Break Entitlements

Your morning recess break is not an entitlement listed in the Tasmanian State Service Award No. 1 Of 2020 (Consolidated) (State Service Award).

However, it has been ‘custom and practice’ over many years in all schools that all staff (including Education Support Personnel) are given a short break around recess time.

Education Support Personnel means all school-based employees who are employed to work 40/42/43 weeks per year and includes Teacher Assistant, School Administration, Canteen Assistants and Library Technicians.

There is no set time for this break. It depends on operational needs of your school as to when it can be taken.

Discuss with your Principal or School Business Manager if you are not getting the break. If you need help having this discussion, talk to your local AEU Rep or Organiser.

Your morning recess break is different from your unpaid lunch break entitlement.

Lunch breaks are a legal entitlement and are an unpaid break of a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 60 minutes. Lunch breaks are to be taken no later than 5 hours after commencing work.

Due to the nature of their work, ESP’s will often find themselves dealing with challenging student behaviour and as such the AEU believes that adequate breaks are vital to ensure the wellbeing of all staff.

It has also come to our attention that some work places are informing their ESPs that they are not entitled to a paid recess break and therefore the recess break will now be unpaid. This effectively amounts to standing these ESPs down for the duration of the recess break. The AEU has concerns about this practice and urges any ESP in this situation to contact the AEU Member Advisory Officer on 6234 9500 to discuss their situation.

It is important to note that all staff are entitled to a safe workplace. Section 19 of the Tasmanian Work Health and Safety Act 2012 provides that the person conducting a business (employer) must ensure the health and safety of workers. This entitlement to safety extends to both the physical and psychological wellbeing of all staff. The Department of Education has a primary duty of care under this legislation. Department of Education employees are ultimately engaged by the Government via the Tasmanian State Service, who have made a clear commitment to becoming an exemplar of work health and safety, via Employment Direction 27 – Work Health and Safety. This employment direction states, “The Government is committed to ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of all its workers.

References & further information

Download print versions of our ESP Fact Sheets below