The Children's Services 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 8 conditions that children's you may not have known existed in the Children's Services Award.
In addition, you can download a FREE copy of our Children's Services 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 Children's Services 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.
Examples of the children services and early childhood education industry include:
- long daycare
- occasional care
- childcare centres
- daycare facilities
- family-based childcare
- out of school hours care
- vacation care
- adjunct care
- in-home care
- kindergartens and preschools
- mobile centres
- early childhood intervention programs.
The Children’s Services 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 children’s services industry.
Examples of employees covered by the Children’s Services Award include:
- child care workers
- room leaders, co-ordinators, assistant directors and directors
- support workers who complete tasks such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, driving, gardening, maintenance and administrative duties.
However, the Children’s Services Award does NOT cover the following:
- Employers in the General Educational Services (Schools) Industry, the Higher Education Industry, the Local Government Industry and the SCHADS Industry.
Types of Employment
- Part-time; or
To be classified as a full-time employee under the Children’s Services Award, they must work an average of 38 hours per week.
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.
Regular Pattern of Work Agreement
At the time of employment, the employer and employee must agree in writing on a regular pattern of work, specifying at least:
- which days of the week the employee will work;
- the total number of daily work hours;
- the starting and finishing times of each workday; and
- that the employer must roster the employee at least 2 hours on any shift.
The employer must keep a copy of the agreement and provide a copy to the employee.
Any changes (whether temporary or permanent) made to the agreement should be made in writing (including electronic communication such as a text message). Any record of these changes should be added to the original agreement.
Under the Children’s Services Award, a casual employee is:
- hired for the purposes of temporary relief (for example, when the full-time employee is booked off sick);
- paid the hourly rate payable to a full-time employee and for at least 2 hours;
- can be paid weekly on agreement with the employer; and
- paid in accordance with the penalty rates if they exceed 8 hours of work per day or 38 hours in a week.
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.
Termination of Employment
The National Employment Standards (NES) are 10 minimum employment entitlements that have to be provided to all employees.
All employees in the national workplace relations system are covered by the NES regardless of the award, registered agreement or employment contract that applies.
Notice of Termination by an Employee
An employee classified under the Children’s Services Award must give their employer notice of termination as below:
Employee’s period of continuous service with the employer
Period of notice
Not more than 1 year
More than 1 year but not more than 3 years
More than 3 years but not more than 5 years
More than 5 years
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 Children’s Services 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.
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 Children's Service Award eBook.
- Broken shift allowance - where your employee works 2 separate shifts in a single day, they are entitled to an allowance for the broken shift.
- Special clothing allowance - if your full or part-time employees are required to purchase any specialised clothing or protective items outside of a regular uniform, the employer must reimburse the employee.
- Laundry allowance - if you require your full or part-time employee to launder their clothing, they are entitled to an allowance. If you require your full or part-time employee to also have their clothing ironed, they will receive a different allowance.
- Excess travelling costs - where an employee is asked to work away from their normal place of work on any day, they are entitled to an allowance to compensate for excess fares.
- First-aid allowance - an employee working during school hours, who is a certified first-aider (below level 3) and required to administer first aid to children in their care is entitled to an allowance. An employee working out-of-school hours also certified and required to administer first-aid is entitled to a slightly higher allowance.
- 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.
- Qualifications allowance - a Director or Assistant Director who holds a Graduate Certificate in Childcare Management or equivalent must be paid an all-purpose allowance.
- Transport allowance for delivery drivers - where an employer requests an employee to use their own car or motorcycle to perform employment duties, they should receive an allowance for the use.
Search our database for all relevant allowances to your modern award.
- an Assistant Director required to carry out the duties of a Director in their absence will only receive a higher payment if the Assistant Director is required to perform higher duties for 2 consecutive days or more;
- an employee required to act as the Director or a Supervising, they will be paid for the entire period at the rate applicable for a Director or Supervising Officer; but
- a level 3 employee required to carry out the duties of a Director in their absence outside ordinary hours is not entitled to higher duties payments; and
- an employee required to take over another employee’s duties in their absence is not to higher duties payments.
A rate of 9.5% of an employee’s ordinary earnings must be contributed to a nominated fund.
- The amount to be paid may be reduced by any amount that the apprentice was eligible to receive for travel costs to attend block release training under a Government apprentice assistance scheme.
Ordinary Hours of Work
- 38 hours per week over a period of no more than 4 weeks;
- 8 hour periods; or
- 12 hours per day if working broken shifts.
The ordinary hours in the Children's Services Award can be worked from 6.00 am - 6.30 pm from Monday to Friday.
An employer needs to put staff rosters in a place that all employees on the roster can access easily.
An employee’s roster can be changed:
- at any time, if the employer and employee agree, or
- if the employer gives the employee 7 days’ notice.
Employers need to record these agreements in writing. The record can be digital, for example, an email or text message
In cases of emergency out of the employer’s control, they are allowed to disregard the requirement to provide 7 days’ notice of the change. Cases of emergency under the Children Services Award include:
- circumstances that pose an immediate or severe risk to any person at the education and care service premises such as a fire; or
- a situation that requires the education and care service premises to be locked-down such as in the case of COVID-19.
Rostered Time Off
A rostered day off is a day in a roster period that an employee doesn't have to work.
Full-time employees can take:
- 1 paid rostered day off during a roster period; or
- accumulate a maximum of 5 rostered days off.
When rostered time off is paid, it’s usually because an employee has worked extra hours that add up over a set period of time.
Noah is a full-time employee at a local pre-school. His typical working hours 38 hours a week, so on average he should be working 7.6 hours per day.
However, more often than not, Noah lands up waiting for a parent who is running a bit late to pick up their child.
So, he actually works around 8 hours per day. So, he accumulates an additional 0.4 hours (or 24 minutes) for each day.
Over a standard month, by working 19 days with an extra 24 minutes, Noah has accumulated 7.6 hours.
As per his agreement with his employer, Noah can take one rostered day off per month.
Accumulated rostered days off have to be taken consecutively when it suits the employer and the employee.
Rostered time off is only available if the ordinary working hours are arranged at the children’s services workplace to allow for it.
An employee responsible for the preparation, implementation or evaluation of a developmental program for an individual child or group of children will be entitled to a minimum of 2 hours non-contact time per week.
During the non-contact time, an employee will not be required to supervise children or perform other duties as directed by the employer.
At a local early childhood centre, the teaching team takes 2-hours off the teaching floor to discuss, reflect, test out ideas and plan for the following week.
They do this to ensure that they provide the children in their care with the best possible learning outcomes.
This particular early childhood centre has a team of support teachers who cover the classrooms when a teacher has their non-contact time.
Hours worked per shift
Paid rest break
Unpaid meal break
Between 4 and 5 hours
1 x 10-minute break
1 x break between 30 and 60 minutes
(an employee can choose not to have a meal break if they are working less than 6 hours)
7 hours or more
2 x 10-minute breaks
(an employee can choose to only have 1 paid rest break)
- the ordinary weekly hours of work are exceeded; and
- outside the spread of ordinary hours (6.00 am - 6.30 pm).
A part-time employee is entitled to overtime when:
- the ordinary weekly hours of work are exceeded;
- they work more than 8 hours in a day;
- more than their agreed-upon hours if they haven't agreed to work more;
- outside their agreed times of work if they have been given less than 7 days notice (unless it is an emergency situation), or
- outside the spread of ordinary hours (6.00 am - 6.30 pm).
A casual employee is entitled to overtime when:
- the ordinary weekly hours of work in terms of the roster are exceeded
The table below outlines the overtime rates that need to be paid to full- and part-time employees:
For overtime worked on
Overtime rate for full- and part-time employees
Overtime rate for casual employees
Monday to Friday
first 2 hours
Monday to Friday
after 2 hours
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, 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:
- 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 month period, the employer must pay the employee as per the overtime rates.
If on termination of the employee’s employment, the employer must pay the employee for the overtime worked at the applicable overtime rate.
Leila, a full-time employee at a daycare facility, worked 1 hour overtime.
She had agreed with his employer to receive time off as opposed to getting paid for her overtime hours.
According to the overtime rates, Leila is entitled to receive 150% of her ordinary hourly rate. So, her time off calculation will be as follows:
1-hour x 150% overtime rate = 1.5 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.
Overtime for Shiftwork
Under the Children’s Services Award, employees may be employed as shiftworkers.
Shiftworkers are employees who work on either of the 7 days and are regularly rostered to work on Sundays and public holidays.
The ordinary hours inclusive of meal breaks for shiftworkers will not, without payment of overtime, exceed an average of 38 hours per week to be worked over a one, 2 or 4-week cycle.
The table indicates the allowances that will be paid for shiftwork:
% of minimum hourly rate
Monday to Friday
Monday to Friday
Monday to Friday night shift, rotating with day or afternoon
Monday to Friday night shift, non-rotating
Shiftworkers who work overtime on the weekend or a public holiday have to be given at least 4 hours of work. If they don't work these hours, they still have to be paid a minimum of 4 hours at overtime rates.
Payment for Annual Leave Loading
Under the Children’s Services 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, he or she would typically work 8 hours of shiftwork on a Saturday too.
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.
Taking Annual Leave
Should a workplace be closed during a vacation period, other than Christmas vacation, and no work is available, your employee must be paid the ordinary rate of pay during such a period.
During the Christmas vacation only, an employee may be directed to take annual leave, however:
- if the employee doesn’t have enough leave to maintain their ordinary pay rate during the vacation period, they may be required to take leave without pay for a maximum of four weeks.
If a business operates for more than 48 weeks per year, an employer may require an employee to take annual leave by giving at least four weeks notice as part of its operations’ close-down.
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.
Regardless of how long they actually work, when an employee works on a public holiday, they have to be paid for a minimum of 4 hours of work.
For shiftworkers, even if a shift is spread across a public holiday and a non-public holiday, an employee is entitled to be paid for a minimum number of hours per shift, even if they don’t work the full shift.
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.
Have You Considered Cloud Payroll?
You can also download a FREE copy of our Children's Services Award eBook with a BONUS payroll processing checklist to ensure you maximise your payroll compliance.
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