Temporary workplace flexibility in Restaurant Award

Published 26 August 2021

graphic illustration of a server and three chefs working in a kitchen.

From 11 August 2021, there are new temporary flexibility provisions in the Restaurant Award. These are:

  • simplified classifications for employees working under the Restaurant Award (Schedule AA)
  • entitlements to exemption rates and an all-purpose allowance (Schedule R).

Both schedules apply from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 11 August 2021.

Schedules AA and R will initially apply for 12 months. There will be a review into the operation of the Schedules after 9 months.

On this page:

Simplified classification structure (Schedule AA)

Schedule AA creates a new and simplified classification structure that can replace some classifications under Schedule A.

Employers can consult with staff to convert their classification from the existing Schedule A to Schedule AA. Employers of new businesses can also elect to hire staff under Schedule AA. The introductory level in Schedule A remains the same.

Schedule AA includes two new streams:

  • restaurant or café worker
  • chef.

Restaurant or café workers

Front of house and kitchen staff employees streams have been combined to create 3 restaurant/café worker grades. Employees can be classified at these new grades depending on duties performed.

Chef staff

Chef staff can be classified at any one of 3 chef grades in Schedule AA if they are a relevant tradesperson completing specified duties.

This stream can replace the 5 classifications under the cook stream in Schedule A.

Example – Electing to convert staff from Schedule A to Schedule AA

Eliza owns a cafe and has 6 staff working for her. They are classified under Schedule A as:

  • 1 Food and Beverage Attendant Grade 1 (wage Level 1)
  • 1 Food and Beverage Attendant Grade 2 (wage Level 2)
  • 1 Kitchen Attendant Grade 1 (wage Level 1)
  • 1 Kitchen Attendant Grade 2 (wage Level 2)
  • 1 Cook Grade 1 (unqualified) (wage Level 2)
  • 1 Cook Grade 3 (tradesperson) (wage Level 4).

Eliza tells her employees she would like to convert the staff to the simpler classification structure in Schedule AA. This will simplify the paperwork and allow the staff to help out in other areas of the cafe if they are needed.

Eliza explains that no one will be paid a lower rate and that some staff will start to be paid a higher rate under the new structure. She also tells her employees they'll get any training they need to help them expand their skills.

Eliza explains that under the new arrangements, the staff will be reclassified as follows:

  • the food and beverage attendants, the kitchen attendants and the Cook Grade 1 will all be reclassified as Restaurant/cafe worker Grade 1 (wage Level 2)
  • the Cook Grade 3 will be reclassified as a Chef Grade 1 (wage Level 4).

Eliza can have her staff work in whichever area of the cafe they are needed. Instead of needing to administer 6 classifications and 3 wage levels, there are only 2 classifications and wage levels to work out.

Read the detailed classification descriptions in Schedule AA of the Restaurant Award.

Annual wage increase

The minimum wage rates for both Schedule AA and Schedule A will increase after the first pay cycle from 1 November 2021 in line with the annual wage review. Find out more at Annual Wage Review 2021.

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Exemption rates (Schedule R.3)

Employers and some employees can now agree to be paid an exemption rate instead of certain award provisions.

How it works

Some full-time level 5 and 6 employees can agree to be paid 170% of their ordinary hourly rate for the first 57 hours worked in a week instead of their usual overtime and penalty rates. This is called the ‘exemption rate’. After 57 hours, an employee is paid the following additional rates:

  • 150% of the exemption rate for the first 2 hours worked in excess of 57 in the week
  • 200% of the exemption rate for all other hours worked in the week.

How to make an exemption rate agreement

An agreement can be made between an employer and an individual employee. Employers have to consult with employees before entering into an exemption rate agreement. Employees under the administrative and general stream can’t be paid exemption rates.

An agreement has to be:

  • in writing
  • signed by the employee
  • say the date the agreement starts.

The written agreement also needs to include that it can be terminated by the employer or employee by giving 4 weeks’ notice in writing.

What it replaces

The exemption rate replaces:

  • missed meal break penalties
  • allowances
  • overtime rates (not including breaks after working overtime)
  • penalty rates.

The exemption rate will also apply for sick and carers leave and annual leave calculations. Check leave balances using our Pay and Conditions Tool.

Example – Exemption rates – non-payment of weekend penalties

Georgia is classified as a Level 5 – Cook grade 4 (tradesperson) under Schedule A. She and her employer enter into a written exemption rate agreement.

Georgia usually works a majority of her shifts on a weekend.

Under the exemption rate, Georgia will be paid at 170% of her ordinary hourly rate for 57 hours in the week. This means that Georgia isn’t paid the weekend penalties she used to get before she entered into the exemption rate agreement.

Difference between a salary payment and an exemption rate

Salary payments and exemption rates apply in different ways.

Salary payments Exemption rates
Who it can apply to Any full-time or part-time employees Level 5 and 6 full-time employees (not including those from the under the administrative and general stream)
What it replaces Penalty rates and overtime

Missed meal break penalties

Allowances

Overtime (not including breaks after working overtime)

Penalty rates

How much is paid Annualised salary must be at least 125% of the minimum weekly rate

Exemption rate must be 170% of the ordinary hourly rate for the first 57 hours worked in a week

Additional rates apply for working more than 57 hours in a week

How often it must be reviewed At the end of 12 months to make sure the salary payment was enough to cover the minimum award entitlements No review required, but exemption rates are temporary and end on 10 August 2022

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Substitute allowance (Schedule R.5)

All employees can now agree to be paid an all-purpose substitute allowance instead of certain individual allowances.

Employers have to consult with employees before entering into an agreement to pay a substitute allowance.

An agreement can be made between an employer and:

  • an individual employee, or
  • 75% of employees (if for a workplace).

If 75% of employees agree to be paid the substitute allowance, all employees at the workplace will be paid the allowance.

The substitute allowance is an hourly amount that differs depending on an employee’s level. Check the following clauses in the Restaurant Award to see what applies:

  • Clause R.5.1 – for individual agreement between an employee and employer, or
  • Clause R.5.2 – for agreement between an employer and at least 75% of employees, which binds all employees.

An agreement has to be:

  • in writing
  • signed by the employee (or at least one employee impacted)
  • say the date the agreement starts.

The written agreement with an individual also needs to include that it can be terminated by the employer or employee by giving 4 weeks’ notice in writing.

What it replaces

The substitute allowance replaces:

  • missed meal break penalties
  • meal allowance
  • split shift allowance
  • tool and equipment allowance
  • special clothing allowance
  • distance work allowance.

Example – All-purpose substitute allowance – agreement from 75% of staff

Abraham runs a cafe and employees 10 full-time staff.

Abraham discusses with his staff about paying them one all-purpose substitute allowance instead of the other multiple and different allowances they are currently paid. He suggests it will start on the first full pay cycle after they enter into an agreement.

After explaining the benefits to receiving the one allowance, 9 staff members agree to the change.

Because over 75% of the impacted staff agree to the changes Abraham can start paying all the staff the substitute allowance.

Resolving disputes

Disputes under Schedule R can be resolved by the Fair Work Commission. Get more information on resolving disputes under these changes at the Fair Work Commission – Interpret or enforce an award external-icon.png.

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