The Ultimate Pharmacy Award (MA000012) Summary

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Everything you need to know about the Pharmacy Award (MA000012), without the jargon.



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The Pharmacy 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.

You can read also read our article that covers the 7 conditions that pharmacy businesses didn't know existed in the Pharmacy Award

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

This summary provides will provide you a comprehensive understanding of everything you need to know about the Pharmacy Award to ensure you have maximum 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.

For the purposes of the Pharmacy Award, community pharmacy means a business that solely or partly established for dispensing prescriptions or selling medicine to the general public and is not owned by:

  • a hospital; 
  • other public institutions operated by the government.

The Pharmacy Award also covers:

  • on-hire employees working in the community pharmacy industry - who are employees that are supplied to the employer’s client to work under them; and
  • employers who provide group training services for trainees engaged in the pharmacy industry.

However, the Pharmacy Award does NOT cover the following:

  1. Employees that are excluded from award coverage by the Act.
  2. Employees covered by a modern enterprise award or an enterprise instrument (or employers in relation to those employees).
  3. Employees covered by a State reference public sector modern award or a State reference public sector transitional award.

If an employer or an employee is covered by more than one award, they are covered by the award that contains a classification that is the most appropriate to the work that they are doing:

  • If, however, the employee can’t be classified in this award, an award with occupational coverage may cover the employer and employee.
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  • Full-time
  • Part-time; or
  • Casual

When hiring the employee, an employer must inform the employee on whether they’ll be working as a full-time, part-time or casual employee.

Moving Between Types of Employment

  1. A full-time or casual employee can only become a part-time employee with the employee’s written consent.
  2. Moving to part-time employment does not affect the continuity of any leave entitlements.
  3. A full-time employee:
  • may request to become a part-time employee; and
  • may return to full-time employment at a date agreed in writing with the employer.


Full-time Employees

In terms of the Pharmacy Award, to be classified as a full-time employee, they must work an average of

  • 38 ordinary hours per week; or
  • 76 ordinary hours over 2 consecutive weeks.


Part-time Employees

To be classified a part-time employee, they must:

  1. work less than 38 hours per week or 76 hours over two consecutive weeks; and
  2. have reasonable predictability in terms of the hours they work.

The Pharmacy Award applies to both full- and part-time employees in the same way.

At the time of employment, the employer and employee must agree in writing on:

  • which days of the week the employee will work;
  • the total number of daily work hours;
  • the starting and finishing times of each workday;
  • that for each hour worked more than the number of ordinary hours agreed upon; the employee must be paid overtime;
  • the time and duration of meal breaks; and
  • that the employee will be rostered at least 3 consecutive hours a day (so a minimum of 8 hours per week)

The agreement should also mention that changes can be made (either temporary or permanent) in writing if agreed between the employer and employee.

However, the roster can’t be changed:

  • from pay period to pay period; or
  • to avoid an entitlement in terms of the pharmacy award.

If the roster is temporarily changed, the employer must give the employee 7 days notice, or in an emergency, at least 48 hours notice.

Suppose an employee wants to work additional hours once they have finished their ordinary hours in terms of their roster. If that is the case, the employee agrees to do so on the terms applicable to a casual employee.

For example, Matthew finished his rostered hours for the day. His boss, Claudia, asks him to stay and work an additional 2 hours but explains that he is not required to do so as she can arrange for a casual employee to finish the shift. Matthew needs some extra money, so he is happy to help Claudia out and agrees to work the additional hours at the casual rate.

Note, however, if the employer asks a part-time employee to work a reasonable number of hours above the number of ordinary hours they’re required to work per week, the employer must pay the employee at the overtime rate.

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School Students

The minimum hours of work for a part-time employee in the following circumstances will be 2 hours:

  1. if the employee is a full-time secondary school student; and
  2. is rostered to work between 3.00 pm and 6.30 pm on a school day; and
  3. the employee agrees to work less than 3 hours with the permission of their parent or guardian of the employee; and
  4. at least one employee is classified at level 3 or higher engaged over the same period to supervise the school student.


Casual Employees

If an employee does not meet the definition of a part-time employee and who is not a full-time employee, they will be considered as a casual employee.

According to the Pharmacy Award, a casual employee must be rostered to work a minimum of 3 hours per day.

As a result of the lack of annual leave and personal/carer’s leave, sick leave, redundancy benefits and other entitlements that full- and part-time employees receive, casual workers are paid an additional 25% loading on top of their base rate of pay.

If a school student works as a casual employee and is rostered to work between 3.00 pm and 6.30 pm on a school day, the same rules apply to a part-time employee.


Right to Request Casual Conversion

A regular casual employee is employed casually regularly for at least 12 months.

In some cases, a casual employee can apply to have their employment contract changed into a part-time or full-time contract depending on the number of hours they regularly work:

  1. An employee that works an average of 38 or more hours a week over 12 months may elect to change over to a full-time contract
  2. An employee that works an average of fewer than 38 hours a week over 12 months may select to change over to a part-time contract

The employer has full discretion to accept, in writing, or refuse the request. However, if the employer chooses to deny the request, it needs to be based on reasonable grounds, such as:

  • to fulfil the requirements of the new employment type, there is a significant change to the number of work hours;
  • the casual position may not exist in the next 12 months;
  • the casual position may have reduced working hours within the next 12 months; or
  • there is likely to be significant changes in the casual employee’s work days and times within the next 12 months that doesn’t suit the employee’s availability.

All grounds of refusal should be known or reasonably foreseeable.

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  • 38 hours per week or 76 hours over 2 consecutive weeks; or
  • 12 hours per day.

Ordinary hours may be worked on any day between 7.00 am and midnight.

Change to Spread of Hours

On 16 June 2021, the FWC handed down a decision clarifying how the spread of hours can be changed. Employers and employees can make an agreement to change the ordinary spread of hours under the Pharmacy 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, 6.00 am and 1.00 am Monday to Friday.

Rostering Arrangements

The following rostering arrangements apply to full-time and part-time employees in terms of the Pharmacy Award:

  1. employees must be rostered to work ordinary hours in such a way that they have:
  2. employees must not be rostered to work ordinary hours on more than 5 days in a week; or
  3. if they are rostered to work ordinary hours on 6 days one week then they shouldn’t be rostered to work ordinary hours more than 4 days the following week;
  4. employees rostered to work (whether ordinary hours or overtime) on 3 Sundays in a 4-week cycle must be rostered to have 3 consecutive days off in that 4-week cycle, including a Saturday and Sunday.
  • 2 consecutive days off each week; or
  • 3 consecutive days off over 2 consecutive weeks;

However, if they’re a part-time employee who has agreed to work Saturdays and Sundays, then point (e) doesn’t apply.

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Hours worked per shift

Paid rest break

Unpaid meal break

Between 4 and 5 hours

1 x 10-minute break


Between 5 and 7.6 hours

1 x 10-minute break

1 x break between 30 and 60 minutes

7.6 hours or more

2 x 10-minute rest breaks, not to be taken:

  • in the first hour of work; or
  • the first hour after a meal break

1 x break between 30 and 60 minutes, to be taken:

  • in the first 5 hours of work; but
  • not in the first 2.5 hours of work

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Please also refer to the minimum rates for different Pharmacy Award 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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  1. Home Medicine Reviews - if your pharmacist is required to perform home medicine reviews, they are entitled to an additional allowance of $106.40 per week.
  2. Meal allowance - If your employee has worked 6 hours or more during the ordinary time and is then required to work overtime; or has to work overtime for more than 1.5 hours after their ordinary time of finishing work, they must either be supplied with an adequate meal by the employer or be paid a meal allowance.
  3. On-premise meal allowance - if the employee can’t take their meal break due to urgent matters requiring their involvement, they are entitled to a penalty rate of 150% of the minimum hourly rate.
  4. Special clothing allowance - if your full or part-time employees are required to wear or launder any specialised clothing or protective items outside of a regular uniform.
  5. Moving expenses - where an employer transfers an employee from one town or city to another, the employer will be responsible for paying all moving costs for the entire family.
  6. Motor vehicle allowance - where an employer requests an employee to use their own car to carry out employment duties.
  7. Transport of employee - where an employee needs to arrange alternative transport due to having to start work before 7 am or finishing after 10 pm, the full taxi fare will be reimbursed.
  8. Broken Hill allowance - for the urgent demand of work in Broken Hill (County of Yancowinna, NSW)
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A rate of 9.5% of an employee’s ordinary earnings must be contributed to a nominated fund.

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However, an employee can refuse to work overtime hours if they are unreasonable.

When determining whether overtime hours are reasonable, the Pharmacy Award suggests that the following must be taken into account:

  1. any risk to employee health and safety from working the additional hours;
  2. the employee's personal circumstances, including family responsibilities;
  3. workplace needs;
  4. whether the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments, penalty rates or other compensation for working additional hours;
  5. if notice is given by the employer when requesting the extra hours;
  6. if notice is issued by the employee of refusal to work additional hours;
  7. the usual patterns of work in the industry;
  8. the nature of the employee's role and the employee's level of responsibility;
  9. whether the extra hours are in accordance with averaging terms in this award; and
  10. any other relevant matters.


Application of Overtime

An employer must pay overtime when:

  1. an employee works more than their ordinary hours of work, e.g. more than 38 hours per week (or 76 hours over 2 consecutive weeks) or 12 hours per day;
  2. an employee works between midnight and 7.00 am;
  3. outside the rostering arrangements

Note: casual employees aren’t entitled to casual loading payable on overtime.


Overtime Rates

The table below outlines the overtime rates that need to be paid to full- and part-time employees:

For overtime worked on

Overtime rate

(% of ordinary hourly rate)

Monday to Friday
first 2 hours


Monday to Friday
after 2 hours




Public Holiday - all day


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Time Off Instead of Payment for Overtime

An employer and employee can agree (in writing) to taking time off for their overtime, instead of getting paid the overtime rates.

Under the Pharmacy Award, employees are entitled to take time off based on what their overtime payment would have been. For example, if a casual employee worked 2 hours overtime, they are entitled to 3 hours time off (2 x 150%).

If, however, the employee requests it, the employer must pay the employee for overtime covered by the agreement but not taken as time off; and any payment must be made in the next pay period following the request.

Employers may not exercise undue influence or pressure employees to take time off instead of payment for overtime.

Time off must be taken:

  1. within 6 months after the overtime is worked; and
  2. at a time within those 6 months that is agreed on by both the employee and employer

Should the employee not take the time-off within the 6 months, the employer must pay the employee as per the overtime rates.

If the employee’s employment is terminated, the employer must pay the employee for the overtime work at the applicable overtime rate.

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The table below outlines the penalty rates that are to be paid at different times and on different days.

Time of ordinary hours worked

Full-time and part-time employees
(% of ordinary hourly rate)

Casual employees
% of the ordinary hourly rate 
(inclusive of casual loading)

Monday to Friday

7.00 am - 8.00 am



Monday to Friday

7.00 pm - 9.00 pm



Monday to Friday

9.00 pm-midnight




7.00 am - 8.00 am




8.00 am - 6.00 pm



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Payment for Annual Leave Loading

Under the Pharmacy Award, if an employee would’ve worked on a particular day but has taken paid leave, they are entitled to a 17.5% annual leave or the relevant weekend penalty rate, whichever is the higher of the two amounts.


Annual Leave for Shift Workers

For the NES, shift workers are employees who work on either of the 7 days and are regularly rostered to work on Sundays and public holidays in a business that operates 24/7.

Under the Pharmacy Award, if a shift worker would’ve worked on a particular shift but has taken paid leave, they are entitled to a 17.5% annual leave or the relevant weekend penalty rate, whichever is the higher of the two amounts.


Alternative Leave Arrangements:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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In terms of the Pharmacy Award, work on a public holiday must be compensated by payment as per the penalty rates: 225% or 250% for casual employees.

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 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.

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Transfer to Lower Paid Duties on Redundancy

This section applies to employees that are transferred to new duties on a lower rate of pay, due to redundancy.

The employer may:

  1. Give the employee notice of the transfer at least the same length as if it were a notice of termination; or
  2. Transfer the employee to the new duties without giving notice of transfer, providing the employer pays the employee as per the terms below:
    1. The employee is entitled to an amount equal to the difference between the ordinary rate of pay of the employee for the hours of work the employee would have worked in the first role and the ordinary rate of payment of the employee in the second role for the period for which notice was not given.


Employee Leaving During Redundancy Notice Period

If an employee is given notice of redundancy, they may elect instead to terminate their employment during the minimum period of notice.

The employee is entitled to receive the benefits and payments they would have received had they remained in employment until the notice’s expiry.


Job Search Entitlement

When an employer has given notice of redundancy to an employee, the employee must be allocated paid time up to one day to search for new employment elsewhere.

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

If requested by the employer, the employee must produce proof of attendance at an interview.

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You can also download a FREE copy of our Pharmacy Award eBook with a BONUS payroll processing checklist to ensure you maximise your payroll compliance.

If this is all too much trouble and you'd rather automate the process like many of our clients, you can make the shift over to cloud payroll by engaging us to help you to transition from a manual to a cloud system seamlessly.

Here’s how cloud payroll works:

    1. Time and Attendance
      Employees clock their time using an integrated time and attendance system that syncs all data with your cloud payroll software.
    2. Live Timesheet Approval
      No more manually entries or paper timesheet approvals. Supervisors and managers approve time and attendance on the go directly on the cloud payroll software.
    3. Automated Modern Awards Compliance
      A collection of “rules” based on the Pharmacy Award are implemented into your cloud payroll software that automatically calculate pay conditions (penalties, allowances, shift work, and more).
    4. Automated Payslips
      Payslips are automatically generated that comply with the Pharmacy Award

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