Do you work through lunch breaks?

With many readers saying they are not paid for skipping breaks, the Pharmacy Guild reminds employers of their legal responsibilities

Earlier this month, PPA sent out a reminder that it is illegal to force pharmacists to routinely work through lunch breaks, unless certain “very strict” requirements are met.

These requirements include being fully financially compensated for working through lunch.

“We are alarmed a[t] the number of pharmacists who tell us that they receive no financial compensation at all for the lack of a lunch break,” the union said.

“Working through every lunchtime is unacceptable practice that could cause dangerous levels of fatigue.”

AJP then ran a poll asking our readers whether they worked through lunch breaks, and the responses suggest that the situation is all too common.

The majority of respondents (44%) stated that they were an employee that worked through breaks and were not compensated for it.

This was followed by employees that worked through their breaks but were compensated (26%).

Of the owners who responded, 11% said they worked through breaks and were not compensated, while 3% said they worked through breaks and were compensated.

In addition, 12% of employee pharmacists and 2% of owners reported that they don’t or rarely work through their breaks.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia reminds its members that under the Pharmacy Industry Award, an employee who is directed to remain at the pharmacy on call through their lunch break is to be paid an on-premise meal allowance – which is paid at time-and-a-half for the duration of the lunch break. 

The pharmacist is still entitled to a lunch break, but remains on the premises if needed for urgent matters requiring a pharmacist, says the Guild.

“The Guild urges all employers to comply with their legal responsibilities including the terms and conditions of the Pharmacy Industry Award or any relevant workplace agreement,” a spokesperson told the AJP.

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  1. Ronky

    It’s even worse than that. Many employers interpret “remain at the pharmacy on call” as simply “just keep working continuously through the lunch “break” exactly the same as the rest of your day”.

  2. Andrew

    Say what you like about deregulation and the big-boys getting their fingers on pharmacy, but unpaid and unsafe work practices like this would simply not exist in that world.

    How much wage theft is going on in pharmacy? A rough count of my own;
    – Work through 2x lunch breaks a week, multiply by 10 years (~480 hours unpaid)
    – 20 minutes unpaid before and after closing, 5 times a week for 10 years (~1600 hours unpaid)

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