The Ultimate Clerks Private Sector Award Summary (MA000002) [2023 Updated]

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Everything you need to know about the Clerks Private Sector Award (without the complicated jargon!)


Everything you need to know about the Clerks Award (without the jargon) + free payroll processing checklist

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The Clerks Private Sector Award is a complex and ever-evolving Modern Award focused in several sectors and has a broad coverage in one of the country's biggest industries.

The Clerks Private Sector Award applies to employees engaged in clerical work which can include:

  • Typing
  • Recording
  • Calculating
  • Invoicing, billing and charging
  • Checking
  • Receiving and answering calls
  • Cash handling
  • Attending a reception desk
  • Administrative duties of a clerical nature

You can also read our article that covers the 7 conditions that you didn’t know existed in the Clerks Private Sector Award.

In addition, you can download a FREE copy of our Clerks Award eBook that covers everything you need to know about the modern award, without the jargon which comes with a BONUS payroll processing checklist. 

This summary will provide you a comprehensive understanding of everything you need to know about the Clerks Private Sector Award to ensure you have maximum Fair Work compliance.



Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal or tax advice. You should, where necessary, seek a second professional opinion for any legal or tax issues raised in your business affairs.

Employers should note that clerical work can potentially span across many industries. Suppose you have employees who are completing clerical work. In that case, there is a high chance that the clerical award covers your employee even though your business is not covered by the clerical award or provides clerical services.

The Clerks Private Sector Award does not cover:

  • Employers covered by a modern award that contains clerical classifications.
  • Employees covered by a modern enterprise award - these are awards that apply to specific businesses rather than industries.
  • Employees covered by a State reference public sector modern award or a State reference public sector transition award - these are awards that cover specific public sector employers.

The Clerks Private Sector Award also does not cover employers covered by any of the following industry awards for their employees:

In cases where more than one modern award covers an employer, the employee is covered by the modern award containing the classification that’s best suited to the work they’re performing.

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Full-Time Employees

To be classified as a full-time employee, you are either:

  • engaged to work 38 ordinary hours per week; or
  • averages 38 hours per week over 4 weeks; or
  • considered full-time at the workplace by the employers despite working less than 38 hours per week

Employees can either be paid per hour or as an annualised salary.


Part-Time Employees

To be classified as a part-time employee under the Clerks Private Sector Award, you must:

  • be working fewer than 38 ordinary hours on a reasonably predictable basis; or
  • have a written agreement that indicates the number of hours the employee is guaranteed each roster cycle as well as the employee’s availability periods (day and time)

For example, a part-time employee works on Wednesday and Thursday between 9am and 5pm. They’ve been employed for 16 guaranteed hours per week. If they start earlier (e.g. 8am to 4pm) or work any additional hours outside of the rostered agreement overtime rates will apply.

A part-time employee must be paid a minimum of 3 hours per shift.

Any changes to the guaranteed hours must only occur if it’s been made as a written agreement between the employee and employer.

Also, changes to an employees’ availability must be changed only where personal circumstances have changed and provided with 14 days’ written notice.


Casual Employees

Casual employees are classified as employees with no guaranteed hours of work or works with irregular patterns under the Clerks Private Sector Award.

Because of this, casual employees are paid an additional 25% loading on top of their base rate of pay as they don’t receive annual leave and personal/carer’s leave entitlements, redundancy benefits and other entitlements that part-time and full-time employees received.

A minimum of 3 hours of work per shift is required for casual employees.

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Shift Type

Penalty Rate 

(% of Minimum Hourly Rate)

Afternoon shift
An afternoon shift finishes between 7pm and midnight


Night shift
A shift that ends between midnight and 7am


Permanent Night Shift
A permanent night shift doesn’t rotate with another shift or day for 4 consecutive weeks or longer


Saturday, Sunday or Public Holiday - All day


  • Take note that ordinary hours may be altered up to an hour on the start or finish times of a shift if there is an agreement in writing between the employer and the employee and with 7 days’ notice of the change
  • A maximum of 6 shifts can be worked across a week (including Sunday)

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Any hours worked outside of this time will need to be paid overtime.

The maximum number of ordinary hours that can be worked on a single day is 10 hours, excluding unpaid meal breaks.

  • Full timers - 38 hours per week or 152 hours over 4 weeks
  • Part timers - Not in excess of agreed hours

An employee who works on their rostered day off will have that shift treated as overtime.

Changing the spread of hours

On 16 June 2021, the FWC handed down a decision clarifying how the spread of hours can be changed in several awards

Employers and employees can make an agreement to change the ordinary spread of hours under the Clerks Award in a few different ways. This includes when an employer makes an agreement with:

  • an individual employee
  • the majority of employees in a discrete section of the workplace, or
  • the majority of employees in the workplace.

The parties can agree to change the spread of hours by shifting them back or forward by up to an hour.

For example, 6 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday or 8 am to 1.30 pm Saturday.

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Also, employees are entitled to paid rest breaks depending on the number of worked hours on a single day based on the below table:

Hours Worked

Paid Breaks

Unpaid Breaks

More than 3 hours but no more than 8 ordinary hours

One 10 minute paid break

30 to 60-minute unpaid meal break must be taken within the first 5 hours worked

More than 8 ordinary hours

Two 10 minute paid breaks 

30 to 60-minute unpaid meal break must be taken within the first 5 hours worked

More than 4 hours overtime on a Saturday morning

One 10 minute paid break

30 to 60-minute unpaid meal break must be taken within the first 5 hours worked


For any employees who work through their unpaid meal break, the employer needs to pay 200% of the minimum hourly rate from the time the meal break would have started until a break is allowed.

The Clerks Award is silent on whether a meal break for shiftworkers is paid or not. It is our interpretation that meal breaks for shiftworkers should be considered as paid.

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For more information regarding the most recent minimum wage, you can refer to the Clerks Private Sector Award pay guide.

Please also refer to the minimum rates for different classifications here.

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Employers must ensure that a salary staff's annual wage can't be less than what they would've been paid over the year if they were paid all the award entitlements for their job.

If you have salary staff covered by the Clerks Private Sector Award, check out our Ultimate Guide on Annualised Salary Changes.

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As of 1 July 2022, however, employers are required to pay a super guarantee on behalf of eligible employees, regardless of how much they are paid. 

A rate of 10.5% of an employee’s ordinary earnings must be contributed.

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  • First aid allowance: If your employee has a current first aid qualification and is appointed by the employer to perform first aid duty, they are entitled to an allowance.
  • Laundry allowance: If your employee is required to work in conditions that damages clothing and the uniform isn’t supplied by the employer, then you are required to pay the employee an allowance to cover laundry expenses.
  • Meal allowance: If the employee works more than 1.5 hours in overtime and not given 24 hours’ notice of overtime, then you must pay them a meal allowance.
  • Vehicle allowance: If the employee needs to use their own vehicle to perform duties, they are entitled to an allowance. 
  • Living away from home allowance: If your employee is required to temporarily work away from the workplace and stay overnight away from home, then you are required to pay the employee an allowance to cover all reasonable expenses incurred for fares, meals and accommodation. 

Search our database for all relevant allowances to your modern award.

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For example, if a receptionist is working an office supervisor shift for a day, they will need to be paid the office supervisor’s classification pay rate for the full day.

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  • It exceeds the ordinary weekly hours of work, e.g. working more than 38 hours a week for a full-time employee or above part-time employees’ ordinary working hours
  • An employee works more than 10 ordinary hours on a single day (excluding unpaid meal breaks)
  • An employee works on a rostered day off that’s not banked or replaced with another working day

The below chart are the overtime rates applicable depending on when the overtime is worked:

Hours of overtime worked each day

Overtime rate (% of minimum hourly rate)

Monday - Saturday for the first 2 hours of overtime


Monday - Saturday after the first 2 hours of overtime


Sunday - All day


Public holiday - All day


There are also additional conditions applicable for overtime:

  • A minimum of 3 hours of overtime must be paid for work performed on a Saturday if the employee has worked more than 38 hours over Monday to Friday
  • A minimum of 4 hours of overtime must be paid for employees working overtime on a Sunday

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Overtime hours worked

Overtime Rate (% of minimum hourly rate)

When you exceed ordinary weekly hours:


First 3 hours


After 3 hours


When you exceed ordinary daily hours:


First 2 Hours


After 2 Hours


Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays


Employers must pay a minimum of 5 hours at the overtime rate if:

  • The employee works overtime on a Saturday, Sunday or Public Holiday
  • The employee is working on a day off
  • The work is outside their ordinary start and finish times

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Return to Duty

Employers must pay employees at the overtime rate in the table above if an employee needs to return to work after their usual finishing hour for that specific day.

In this case, the Clerks Private Sector Award enforces that an employee must be paid a minimum of 3 hours.

For example, an employee worked on Monday at 7am and finished at 11am before being directed to return to work between 2pm and 7pm that same day. In this situation, they will be paid overtime rate of 150% for the first 2 hours and 200% for the subsequent worked between 2pm and 7pm.

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Rest Period with Overtime

When an employee covered by the Clerks Private Sector Award works overtime, there must be at least 10 consecutive hours of rest between the end of the overtime shift to the start of the next shift, wherever reasonably practical.

If it’s not possible and an employee either continue to work or resumes work without at least 10 consecutive hours of rest, then the following will apply:

  • 200% penalty rate must be paid on the employee’s minimum hourly rate; and
  • The employee must be given at least 10 consecutive hours of rest afterwards; and
  • The employee should not lose any pay for any ordinary hours as a result of the employer needs to give the minimum 10 consecutive hours of rest

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Time Off Instead of Overtime Payment

The Clerks Private Sector Award indicates that an employee and employer can agree in writing that the employee will take time off instead of being paid for overtime worked. The period taken off needs to be the same number of hours worked in overtime.

For example, an employee working 4 hours of overtime is entitled to taking 4 hours of time off.

The written agreement should include:

  • The number of overtime hours worked, and when they were worked.
  • The employee and employer agree that time will be taken off instead of being paid for the overtime.
  • The employee can request to be paid overtime at any time instead of taking time off
  • The payment needs to be made in the next upcoming pay period from the time of the request.

The time off needs to be taken within 6 months from the time the overtime was worked or at an agreed time if it’s beyond 6 months.

If an employee doesn’t take time off within 6 months and nothing has been agreed beyond the 6 months, then the employer must pay in the next pay period for the overtime worked.


An employee worked 4 hours overtime on a Tuesday night.

She had agreed with her employer to receive time off as opposed to getting paid for her overtime hours.

According to the overtime rates, she is entitled to receive 200% of her ordinary hourly rate. So, her time off calculation will be as follows:

4 hours x 200% overtime rate = 8 hours time off

However, this time off needs to be taken within six months of the worked overtime and at a time that is agreed on by both the employer and employee.

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Penalty Rate 
(% of minimum hourly rate)

Minimum Hours



No minimum



4 hours

Public Holidays


4 hours

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All annual leave is in accordance with the National Employment Standards (NES)

The National Employment Standards also includes minimum entitlements to: 

  • personal/carer's leave; 
  • compassionate leave; 
  • unpaid family and domestic violence leave; 
  • community service leave; and 
  • long service leave. 


Payment for Annual Leave Loading

Under the Clerks Private Sector Award, a rate of 17.5% leave loading on top of their annual leave is applied when an employee takes paid time off.

Employees must be paid the higher of:

  • An annual leave loading of 17.5% of their ordinary pay rate; or
  • The weekend and shift penalties the employee would have received if they weren’t on leave during that period.



If a full-time employee applies for leave between Thursday this week and Wednesday next week, they would typically work 8 hours of shiftwork on a Saturday. 

The employer must calculate 38 hours, including a 17.5% leave loading and compare with how much the employee will typically receive if they had been paid working across that period with the Saturday penalty rates.

Whichever of the two calculations is higher is how much the employee should be paid across that period of time, not for individual days.


Alternative Leave Arrangements: 

  • Leave in advance: employers and employees may agree in writing to the employee taking a period of paid annual leave before the employee has accrued the leave. 
  • Cashing out annual leave: employers and employees may agree in writing to cashing out a particular amount of an employee’s accrued paid annual leave. 
  • Excessive leave accruals: employers and employees may agree in writing on how to reduce or eliminate excessive leave accrual. An excessive leave accrual is defined as having accrued more than 8 weeks paid annual leave, or 10 weeks for a shift worker.

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All public holiday entitlements are per the National Employment Standards (NES) and the penalty rates outlined in the table above.

Employees that need to work on a public holiday may substitute an alternative day off provided that it’s been agreed in writing between the employer and employee.

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Notice of Termination by an Employee

An employee classified under the Clerks Private Sector Award must give their employer notice of termination as below:

Employee’s period of continuous service with the employer
at the end of the day, the notice is given

Period of notice

Not more than 1 year

1 week

More than 1 year but not more than 3 years

2 weeks

More than 3 years but not more than 5 years

3 weeks

More than 5 years

4 weeks


The notice that an employee is required to give is the same required of an employer, except the employee does not have to provide additional notice based on their age.

If an employee who is at least 18 years old does not give the period of notice required, then the employer can deduct from the wage due to the employee. However, no more than one week’s wage should be deducted.

If the employer has agreed to a shorter period of notice, then no deduction can be made.


Job Search Entitlement

When an employer has given notice of termination to an employee in terms of the Clerks Private Sector Award, the employee must be allocated paid time up to one day, so that they can search for new employment elsewhere. 

The allocated time should be taken when convenient to the employee and after consultation with the employer.

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That's why we've created an eBook that consolidates all this information into actionable steps.



This means a payroll processing checklist designed for you to use in your pay run so that you'll never miss a single condition ever again.

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