7 Conditions Commonly Missed in the Restaurant Industry Award (MA000119)

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The biggest pitfalls in the Restaurant Industry Award (without the jargon).


Download our eBook on the Restaurant Industry Award (without the jargon) + free payroll processing checklist

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The Restaurant Industry Award (MA000119) covers employers working in the restaurant industry and their employees who fit within the award’s classifications. 

While you can review the Restaurant Industry Award on the Fair Work website, the document is often filled with complicated legal jargon, making it challenging to understand whether or not your restaurant business is meeting all the compliance requirements.

With a recent focus on payroll compliance from Fair Work Commission Australia and media coverage of businesses guilty of wage theft, it’s more important now than ever that companies understand what’s expected of their obligations when it comes to being compliant with pay rates and employment conditions. 

Just in the last 3 months, there were payroll compliance breaches with 85 Degrees Cafe;  Mount Ommaney Bakehouse; and Fu Kang Chinese Restaurant. They were found to have failed to pay a range of minimum entitlements under the Restaurant Industry Award.

To help guide you in the right direction, we’ve created an easy-to-understand eBook that summarises all the essentials in the Restaurant Industry Award. Our eBook also includes a payroll processing checklist for your restaurant business so that you can ensure you cover all your bases and remain compliant in terms of the Restaurant Industry Award. 

We’ve also put together this article to cover some of the conditions commonly missed in the Restaurant Industry Award that you should know to ensure you fully understand how to be 100% compliant.

In other words, the Restaurant Industry Award applies to apprentices in the same way that it applies to employees otherwise stated.



Leila, an apprentice at a local bakery, must be granted the same annual leave entitlements as Margie, the head baker. 


However, employers must not require any apprentice under the age of 18 to work overtime or shift work. 

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In other words, employees can move to the next pay level when they can show you've got the required skills. 

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



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.

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



Noah works during lunch service at a local cafe. 

He starts work at 9.00 am and usually finishes around 6.00 pm. Because he has to prepare for service in the morning and then serves tables from 11.00 am, he typically only takes his lunch break at around 3.30 pm - once the lunch rush is over. 

As he cannot take lunch break within the first 5 hours of his shift, he is entitled to a paid 20-minute meal break which he usually takes at around 10.30 am. This allows him to have a quick snack break before starting the lunch service rush. 

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



Joshua 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, Joshua’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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The new annualised salary changes introduce various processes that employers must follow to ensure that their annualised salary arrangement doesn’t disadvantage their employees: 

  • 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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If you do, you must pay them a tool and equipment allowance. The assumption is that the employee would spend the allowance on replacing their tools from time to time. 



Where an apprentice cook is required to use their own knife set, the employer is responsible for paying them an allowance, so that if the apprentice has to replace that knife set, they have the funds to do so. 

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Lucy, a waitress at a fine-dining restaurant in Sydney, lost her balance while carrying a tray with two filled champagne glasses. 

Because she didn’t intentionally break the glasses - they broke because she lost her balance and accidentally dropped the tray - her employer is not allowed to deduct the cost of those glasses and the spilt champagne from her wages.

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.



If Lucy had, in a fit of frustration, intentionally threw the tray, with the filled glasses, to the ground, then her employer would be justified in making the deduction from her wages. However, the deduction can’t be more than the cost of the glasses and split champagne. 

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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Beyond reading the Restaurant Industry Award eBook and this article, given the complexity of the award, we have found that adopting cloud payroll software to automate your compliance and help with labour cost control is a handy tool. 

We also offer an automated time and attendance solution called NoahFace which captures the start and end of shift times using an Ipad or the NoahFace Go phone app. The data is synchronised with your payroll system, making payroll a breeze. 

If you’re still feeling unsure about your compliance with the Restaurant Industry Award, feel free to get in touch with us at Pay Cat to learn more about adopting cloud payroll software and no-touch clocking for the Restaurant Industry Award (MA000119) or any other modern award.