Minimum working hours per shift in Australia
Updated 3 January 2021
In Australia, employers must give their workers shifts that satisfy the minimum working hour shifts for their industry.
And, you can find minimum working hours for a shift in the applicable Australian award.
Minimum shift hours will vary across industries.
However, when you look at a few Australian awards, you'll see a pattern and that around 3 hours is a good average.
But, you need to check your applicable award, so don't assume its 3 hours automatically.
You can find your award on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Minimum hours are in awards, enterprise agreements and contracts
In addition to awards, minimum shift hours can also be outlined in an enterprise agreement or an employment contract.
So which applies if there's a conflict ?
The award, enterprise agreement or employment contract?
More favourable employee terms will always apply for the employee and I'll explain this below.
Favourable terms trump
More favourable employee terms for minimum shift hours in an applicable award or enterprise agreement and these minimums will always apply over those in an employment contract.
And vice versa; if the employment contract has more favourable terms, those will apply over the minimums in an award or enterprise agreement.
Allocating below minimum shift hours
Giving employees less than the minimum shift hours is something that employers cannot do.
In a nutshell - because it disadvantages employees.
The typical disadvantage, involves an employee travelling for some time only to be told 'it's not busy, you can go home' 2 hours into their shift.
Now, there are several rules that apply across many industries in Australia.
If an employer allocates an employee less than the minimum shift hours, the employee may claim the wages for the minimum shift hours that they should have been allocated, even if they did not work those hours.
Minimum shift hours by industry
Below I have prepared a table showing the minimum shift hours for some industries.
You should check your award if you are unsure of the minimum shift hours that apply in your case.
You may typically find your minimum shift hours under sections labelled call-outs, hours, casual employment, part-time employees or recall allowance.
Some awards will have a separate clause for part-time and another for casuals, but they usually have the same minimum number of shift hours.
Cleaning Services Award 2010
Clerks - Private Sector Award 2010
11.5, 12.4, 27.4
Fast Food Industry Award 2010
Fitness Industry Award 2010
1 hour/3 hours
12.4, 13.4 & 13.5
General Retail Award 2010
Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010
Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010
2 hours, 3 hours
You can get access to your Award on the Fair Work Ombudsman's website.
Do you have questions or comments about minimum shift hours? Be sure to leave them below.