The Ultimate Restaurant Industry Award (MA000119) Summary

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Everything you need to know about the Restaurant Industry Award (MA000119), without the jargon.

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The Restaurant Industry 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 commonly missed by employers in the Restaurant Industry Award.

In addition, you can download a FREE copy of our Restaurant 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 Restaurant Industry Award to ensure you have maximum compliance.

Disclaimer:
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.

The following businesses are covered under the Restaurant Industry Award: 

  • restaurants; 
  • reception centres; 
  • night clubs; 
  • cafe’s; and 
  • Catering by a restaurant business.

 

The Restaurant Industry Award also covers:

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

 

However, the Restaurant Industry Award does NOT cover:

  • restaurants that are connected to a hotel or pub (who would generally be covered by the Hospitality Industry (General) Award);
  • establishments where food is taken-away from the premises (who would typically be covered by Fast Food Industry Award);
  • restaurants at registered clubs (who would typically be covered by the Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010);
  • in-flight catering for airlines;  
  • or catering services provided by aged care employers.

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  • Full-time
  • Part-time; or
  • Casual

 

Full-Time Employees

To be classified as a full-time employee under the Restaurant Industry Award, they must work an average of 38 ordinary hours per week.

 

Part-Time Employees

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

  • work less than 38 hours per week;
  • have reasonable predictability in terms of the hours they work; and 
  • receive, on a pro-rata basis, pay and conditions equivalent to full-time employees. 

 

Setting Guaranteed Hours 

At the time of employment, the employer and employee must agree in writing on a regular pattern of work, specifying at least

  • the guaranteed hours of work; and 
  • the employee’s availability.

Changes can be made to the agreement in writing. 

 

Rostering 

If a part-time employee is rostered to work their guaranteed hours, they must:

  • not be rostered to work any hours outside their availability;
  • not be rostered to work less than 3 hours or more than 11.5 hours; and
  • have 2 days off each week.

 

Request to increase guaranteed hours

Where an employee has regularly worked more than their guaranteed hours for at least 12 months, they may request (in writing) to have their guaranteed hours increased. 

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. 

 

Casual Employees

Under the Restaurant Industry Award, a casual employee is an employee that doesn’t fit into the full- or part-time categories and who works on an hourly basis. 

A casual employee may only work a maximum of 12 hours per day or a maximum of 38 hours per week. 

However, they must work at least 2 hours per day.

Instead of receiving paid leave benefits, casual workers are paid an additional 25% loading on top of their minimum hourly rate. 

 

Right to Request Casual Conversion

A regular casual employee is someone who is employed casually on a regular basis 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:

  • 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
  • An employee that works an average of fewer than 38 hours a week over 12 months may elect 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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Apprentices 

Under the Restaurant Industry Awards, employers are allowed to employ apprentices provided that the employment aligns with the laws that regulate apprenticeships: 

  • the Restaurant Industry Award applies to apprentices in the same way that it applies to employees otherwise stated;
  • employers must not require any apprentice under the age of 18 to work overtime or shift work (however, an apprentice may agree to do so if they are requested to); and 
  • employers must not require apprentices to work overtime or shift work if it interferes with their training attendance, except in an emergency.

 

Training

Employers must release apprentices from work duties to attend their training without any pay loss or employment termination.

For wage calculation purposes, an apprentice’s time attending training or assessments is regarded as time working.

Where an apprentice is required to attend training by the employer, the employer must reimburse them for all fees they may have paid. Employers must also reimburse the apprentice for textbook purchases made for the apprenticeship.

The employer must make any required reimbursements by whichever of the following is later:

  • 6 months after the start of the apprenticeship; or
  • 6 months after the relevant stage of the apprenticeship; or
  • 3 months after the beginning of the training provided by the RTO.

 

An employer doesn't have to reimburse you for fees and textbooks if:

  • your progress in the course is unsatisfactory;
  • your employer pays the costs and fees directly to the training organisation, or
  • you aren't working for them at the set time that the costs have to be reimbursed.

They also don’t have to reimburse you any part of the fees that the Government reimburses you.

 

Block Release Training

In terms of the Restaurant Industry Award, if an apprentice is attending training that requires an overnight stay, the employer must pay reasonable travel costs for travelling to and from the training. 

However, the employer is not obligated to pay if the apprentice could have attended training at a venue closer to home and attending the more distant training had not been agreed on.

Reasonable travel costs include:

  • the total cost of reasonable transportation (including transportation of tools, where required) to and from the training; 
  • accommodation costs; and
  • other reasonable expenses, such as meals. 

 

Reasonable costs do not include:

  • payment for travelling time; 
  • or other expenses incurred while not travelling to and from the block release training.

 

Competency-Based Progression

The Restaurant Industry Award has competency-based pay increases. 

This means you move to the next pay level when you can show you've got the required skills. 

This happens when you've completed a certain percentage of the total competencies set out in your training plan (for example 25%). This might be earlier (but can't be later) than 12 months.

 

Example: 

Stephanie is completing a cooking apprenticeship and is covered by the Restaurant Industry Award. 

Stephanie completes 25% of her training plan’s competencies, so she can start receiving the pay rate for a stage 2 apprentice.

 

If you haven't completed the competencies at the end of 12 months, you'll still move to the next pay level.

Figuring out if you've reached the competency level that you need to get the pay increase will depend on:

  • the competencies set out in your training plan;
  • approval by the training provider; and
  • on agreement from your employer.

 

Junior Employees

A junior employee is an employee that is under the age of 21 and is not completing a nationally recognised apprenticeship or training.

Any employee under the age of 18 cannot be required to work more than 10 hours in a shift.

Where laws permit it, junior employees are allowed to work in a bar or a place where liquor is sold, however, they must be paid as an adult at the correct rate for the work being performed.

Employers are allowed to request a birth certificate or proof of age of a junior employee at any time.

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  • a full-time employee must work at least 6 hours per day but no more than 11.5 hours a day;
  • where an employee is rostered to work more than 10 hours each day over 3 consecutive days, they are entitled to 48-hour break following the 3rd day of work; 
  • an employee may only work more than 10 hours per day for a maximum of 8 days per 4-week cycle; 
  • an employee (other than a casual employee) must have a minimum break of 10 hours between when the employee the finishing time on one day and the starting time on the next; 
  • (an employee must have a minimum of 8 full days off work in a 4 week period; and 
  • where an employee works a split shift, the maximum spread of hours they can work is 12. 

An employee under 18 years must not be required to work more than 10 hours in a shift. 

 

Rostering Arrangements 

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

  • the employer must prepare a roster showing for each employee when they start and finish work; 
  • the roster must be placed in an area that is easily accessible by the employees; 
  • any changes to the roster must be communicated with 7-day’s notice; and 
  • an employer must give an employee at least 2 weeks notice of any rostered days off. 

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Hours worked per shift

Paid rest break

Unpaid meal break

Paid meal break

5 hours to 10 hours 

None 

1 x break of at least 30 min which should be taken: 

  • after the first hour of work; and 
  • within the first 6 hours of work.



If an employee doesn’t take an unpaid meal break before 5 hours of work, they are entitled to a 20 minute paid break, which should be taken: 

  • after the first 2 hours of work; and 
  • within the first 5 hours of work. 

More than 10 hours 

2 x 20-minute breaks

1 x break of at least 30 min which should be taken: 

  • after the first hour of work; and 
  • within the first 6 hours of work.



If an employee doesn’t take an unpaid meal break before 5 hours of work, they are entitled to a 20 minute paid break, which should be taken: 

  • after the first 2 hours of work; and 
  • within the first 5 hours of work.

 

When the employer rosters an employee’s rest breaks, they must make all reasonable efforts to ensure that breaks are spread evenly across the employee’s shift.

 

When An Unpaid Meal Break Isn’t Given

If an employee doesn’t get their unpaid meal break when they are supposed to, they have to be paid an extra 50% of their ordinary hourly rate from:

  • when the unpaid break was supposed to start 
  • until they get an unpaid meal break or their shift ends.

 

Example:

Pierce is a full-time employee who works the following ordinary hours:

  • 12 pm – 8 pm on Monday – Thursday
  • 6 am – 2 pm on Friday.

He typically takes his unpaid meal break at 4:30 pm. However, the restaurant where he works offers a 2 for 1 burger special on Wednesday’s, so they are generally a lot busier on those days. 

As a result, he is unable to take his unpaid meal break when he is supposed to. He ends up eating when he gets home after his shift.  

So, Pierce’s employer must pay him an additional 50% of his hourly rate from 4:30 pm to 8 pm. 

 

If no unpaid meal break was scheduled for the employee, then they have to be paid an extra 50% of their ordinary hourly rate after 6 hours of work until they are given a break, or their shift ends.

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

If you aren't sure about the classification structure, we break it down in our Restaurant Industry Award eBook.

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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 Restaurant Industry Award, check out our Ultimate Guide on Annualised Salary Changes.

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  • Meal allowance: if your employee is required to work more than 2 hours overtime with less than 24 hours notice, you must supply them with a meal or pay them an allowance.
  • Split shift allowance: the employer must pay the employee an allowance of $4.31 for each separate work period of 2 hours or more.
  • Tool and equipment allowance: where an apprentice cook is required to use their own tools, the employer must pay them an allowance.
  • Special clothing allowance: the employer must reimburse an employee who is required to wear special clothing for the cost of purchasing clothing that is not supplied or already paid for by the employer.
  • Laundry allowance: if the employee is responsible for laundering any special clothing that is required to be worn by them, the employer must pay the employee a weekly laundry allowance of an amount they agreed on. 
  • Distance work: where an employee is required to work away from their typical workplace, the employer must pay them for the time spent travelling both ways.

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

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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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Where an employee works overtime on a day they weren't rostered to work, they have to be paid a minimum of 4 hours of work at overtime rates. 

For example, if an employee works 2 hours overtime on their rostered day off, they will need to be paid for 4 hours.

 

Breaks After Working Overtime

Where an employee works overtime and their next rostered working day is less than 8 hours after they finish working the overtime, then the employer must either: 

  • delay the start time of their next rostered working day to allow an 8 hours break; or 
  • Pay the employee at the overtime rate until the employee has a break of at least 8 hours. 

 

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

150%

Monday to Friday
after 2 hours

200%

Saturday 
first 2 hours

175%

Saturday
after 2 hours

200%

Sunday

200%

Rostered day off

200%

 

Time Off Instead of Payment for Overtime

It is possible for an employer and employee to agree (in writing) to taking time off for their overtime, instead of getting paid the overtime rates. 

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 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 put pressure on employees to take time off instead of payment for overtime.

Time off must be taken:

  • within 6 months after the overtime is worked; and 
  • at a time within that 6 month period 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. 

 

Example:

Lara, an employee at a local night club, worked 2.5 hours overtime on a Friday night.

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

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

3.5 hours x 200% overtime rate = 7 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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The table below outlines the penalty rates for full-time and part-time employees as well as the different levels of casual employees: 

Time of ordinary hours worked

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

Casual employees (Introductory to Level 2)
% of the ordinary hourly rate 
(inclusive of casual loading)

Casual employees (Level 2 to Level 6)
% of the ordinary hourly rate 
(inclusive of casual loading)

Monday to Friday 

6.00 am to 10.00 pm 

100%

125%

125%

Monday to Friday 

10.00 pm to midnight

100% plus $2.27 per hour or part of an hour

125% plus $2.27 per hour or part of an hour

125% plus $2.27 per hour or part of an hour

Monday to Friday 

Midnight to 6.00 am 

100% plus $3.41 per hour or part of an hour

125% plus $3.41 per hour or part of an hour

125% plus $3.41 per hour or part of an hour

Saturday

125%

150%

150%

Sunday

150%

150%

175%

Public Holiday

225%

250%

250%

 

Where more than one penalty rate would be payable for hours worked at a particular time, the employer must pay the employee the higher penalty rate, but not more than one.

 

Example: 

On Thursday, Miles worked at his local restaurant from 3.00 pm to midnight. His span of hours crosses over penalty rate time periods.

The higher penalty rate is the one paid between 10.00 pm and midnight. So Miles will receive a penalty rate of 100% plus $2.27 per hour or part of an hour. 

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Payment for Annual Leave Loading

Under the Restaurant Industry 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.

 

Example:

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.

The idea is so that the employee is protected from being paid less for going on paid annual leave. 

 

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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Under the Restaurant Industry Award, any employee required to work on a public holiday will be paid between 225% - 250% of the minimum hourly rate applicable to their classification.

However, an employer and employee may agree to substitute another day for a day that would otherwise be a public holiday under the NES.

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Where there is a deduction as a result of intentional misconduct, it must be reasonable in the circumstances and proportionate to the employer’s loss.

Deductions must not be made from the wages of an employee who is under 18 years of age unless the deductions have been agreed to in writing by the employee’s parent or guardian. 

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Notice of Termination by an Employee

An employee classified under the Restaurant Industry 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 wages due to the employee. However, no more than one week’s wages 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 Restaurant Industry 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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You can also download a FREE copy of our Restaurant Industry Award eBook with a BONUS payroll processing checklist to ensure you maximise your payroll compliance.

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