Relief for Restaurants & Cafes during COVID-19

The Fair Work Commission has announced further amendments with Restaurant Industry Award flexibility arrangements set to come into effect from 31 March 2020 and the provisions will be in operation until 30 June 2020.

As a result of current conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic, flexibility arrangements were recently introduced to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 and Clerks Private Sector Award 2010.

The below modifications are set out to provide a more flexible working arrangement for employees and employers in the Restaurant and Café industry when dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic.


Change in duties

Employers can now require their employees to perform any task that they have the skills to perform, even if these tasks are not in line with their usual classification duties.

If the employee works at a higher classification for less than 2 hours, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate for the hours worked. If the employee works for 2 hours or more at this higher classification, they will need to be paid at the higher rate for the whole day. Employees who perform tasks below their typical classification will still need to be paid at their usual rate.


Hours of work: full-time & part-time employees

Employers can reduce their permanent employee’s hours of work by mutual agreement. The employer will need to follow the Restaurant Industry Award’s consultation process regarding changes to rosters or hours of work (Section 8A) and provide as much notice as possible.

The new changes allow employers to temporarily reduce full-time and part-time employees’ hours of work to:

  • between 22.8 and 38 hours each week for full-time employees,
  • not less than 60% of part-time employees agreed hours.


Employees will continue to accumulate and take their paid leave based on their ordinary hours of work before the reduction in hours was implemented.

If an employee is a member of the United Workers Union, the employer will also need to inform the union of the change.


Direction to take Annual Leave: Business is still operating

If the business is still operating, the employer can direct an employee to take annual leave by:

  • providing the employee with at least 24 hours’ notice,
  • considering the employee’s personal circumstances.


The recent changes also allow employees to take annual leave at half pay if the employer agrees.


Closure of Business

If the business is closing its doors for a period, employers can direct their employees to take annual leave by providing at least 1 weeks’ notice.

If the employee doesn’t have enough paid annual leave to cover the entire period, the employer can direct them to take unpaid leave. The period of unpaid leave will count as service for entitlements under the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 and the National Employment Standards.


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