Work Smarter

Work Smarter

Smart means planning to succeed: a tailored HR plan, managing your risks and making the right decisions first time. Working smarter saves you time, money and rework.

Grow Stronger

Grow Stronger

Strength is your growth foundation: right people in the right roles and a culture of high performance and low maintenance. Growing stronger equals success... and more time for you to enjoy it.

Move Faster

Move Faster

Faster is better with smart speed: an engaged, confident and capable workforce achieving more in less time. Moving faster means first to new customers and new opportunities.

Work Smarter

Work Smarter

Smart means planning to succeed: a tailored HR plan, managing your risks and making the right decisions first time. Working smarter saves you time, money and rework.

Grow Stronger

Grow Stronger

Strength is your growth foundation: right people in the right roles and a culture of high performance and low maintenance. Growing stronger equals success... and more time for you to enjoy it.

Move Faster

Move Faster

Faster is better with smart speed: an engaged, confident and capable workforce achieving more in less time. Moving faster means first to new customers and new opportunities.

What does the 38 hour week actually mean?

Hi Bare Bones Consulting, I’m not sure how to explain the 7.6 hour day to my employees and how this relates to their knock-off times each day under the 38 hour week in their Award. I don’t want to provide the wrong info or fall into the overtime payment trap… can you assist?

Good question and the relationship between 7.6 hours per day and 38 hour week thing is source of confusion for many employers and employees.

Interestingly, much of the confusion rests with how long you give your employees to eat their sandwiches (or, if you’re in certain hipster areas, their poke bowls). Although I’m tempted to sign off on that cryptic note, let’s take a walk through Australian Industrial Relations history to check out how 38 hours came about and go from there.

In 1927, the Arbitration Court decided to reduce ordinary weekly working hours from 48 to 44. The 40 hour working week was adopted in 1947 and, in 1983, the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission introduced the 38 hour week.

Most of us in full time employment are used to working a 5-day week, Monday to Friday. Dividing 38 hours by 5 days gives us 7.6 hours each day. 7.6 hours equates to 7 hours 36 minutes.

Now…here’s where the sandwiches come in. Unless otherwise specified, a reference to a meal break in a Modern Award usually means the break is unpaid. An unpaid lunch break would therefore not form part of the employee’s ordinary hours of work. Assuming your employees commence at the same time each day, their finishing times will depend on how long they take for lunch.

  • If taking a 30-minute meal break, an employee commencing work at 9.00am would formally complete ordinary hours at 5.06pm. Any time after this would be considered overtime.
  • If taking a 60-minute meal break, an employee commencing work at 9.00am would formally complete ordinary hours at 5.36pm. Any time after this would be considered overtime.

I know very few businesses still offering one hour for lunch. Most Monday-Friday employees are generally in the habit of finishing work at 5.00pm each day, hence the move to the shorter 30 minute lunch break and earlier finish. Modern Awards will provide clarification on minimum meal and rest breaks within your particular industry.

All good? Think of the delicious poke you can afford now that your 38 hour week queries are solved!

Bare Bones Consulting can help with answers to simple employment queries or to your more complex workplace challenges. We specialise in plain English explanations and solutions that work in your real world…at value for money prices. Any consulting fees are an expense but we prefer to think of our fees as an investment in your business. And a smart investment. Call us now for a chat on how we can help you.

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