Entitlements for employees under the Cleaning Award

Closing Loopholes: Additional Fair Work Act changes

The Australian Government has made further workplace laws as part of its ‘Closing Loopholes’ changes.

This may affect the information on this page.

Learn more at Closing Loopholes: Additional Fair Work Act changes.

An employee's entitlements can come from several places, including an award, registered agreement or contract.

Most employees who work in the contract cleaning industry are covered by the Cleaning Services Award (Cleaning Award).

You can ask your employer if you are covered by an enterprise agreement or other registered agreement. You can also search for an agreement on the Fair Work Commission’s website.

Employees covered by a contract must still receive the minimum entitlements from the Cleaning Award and National Employment Standards (NES). For more information about contracts, see our Employment contracts page.

If you’re not sure if you’re covered by Cleaning Award, see Which award applies?

The information on this page is for employees who are covered by the Cleaning Award.

Where to find minimum entitlements

For employees working in contract cleaning, their minimum entitlements are found in:

  • the National Employment Standards (NES)
  • the Cleaning Award.

National Employment Standards

The NES are the minimum employment entitlements that have to be provided to all employees. For more information, see National Employment Standards.

To help you understand what each NES entitlement provides, you can watch our series of NES videos.

Awards

An award is a legal document that sets out minimum pay rates and conditions of employment.

These include:

  • loadings for different employee types
  • industry-specific rostering arrangements
  • breaks
  • overtime and penalty rates.

If you are employed in the contract cleaning industry and you are covered by the Cleaning Award, look out for these boxes on our website. Select the industry that applies for you to get tailored information on the page.

Example of industry filter that appears on pages for additional information based on an award
An example of an industry filter on the website. When you see a filter, choose the cleaning industry to get tailored information on topics like hours of work, redundancy and final pay.

Types of employment

There are 3 main types of employment covered by the Cleaning Award:

  • full-time
  • part-time
  • casual.

If you are unsure which type you are, learn more about Types of employees.

Full-time employees who work under the Cleaning Award have to get an average of 38 ordinary hours a week. These hours can vary week to week and can be averaged over several weeks, so long as it equals 38 hours on average in that period.

Part-time employees are engaged to work less than 38 ordinary hours a week. They must agree on how many hours they will work each week before starting their job. Part-time employees are also entitled to an additional 15% loading on top of their normal hourly rate for hours they work.

Casual employees have no guaranteed hours of work and their hours can be irregular or sporadic. Casual employees are also entitled to a 25% casual loading on all hours they work. A casual employee may be able to change to full-time or part-time employment, which is called casual conversion. To learn more, read Becoming a permanent employee.

Under the Cleaning Award, an employer can only employ a casual employee for specific reasons.

Example: The difference between part-time and casual employment

Taylor runs an office cleaning business. She wants to hire a new employee to work 15 hours per week but isn’t sure if they should be casual or part-time.

Taylor looks at information about part-time and casual employees on fairwork.gov.au and in the Cleaning Services Award 2020 (Cleaning Award). She learns that under the Cleaning Award you can only employ a casual employee for one of 3 reasons:

  • to work on an intermittent or irregular basis
  • to work uncertain hours, or
  • to replace a full-time or part-time employee who is rostered off or absent.

Taylor wants her new employee to work regular hours, so she needs to hire them as a part-time employee.

Under the Cleaning Award, part-time employees get paid a 15% part-time loading. Among other requirements, they also have an agreed pattern of work that is less than 38 hours per week, get paid and accrue annual and sick leave, and must give or receive notice to end their employment.

Hours of work and rostering

Employees under the Cleaning Award need to be given a minimum amount of hours each shift.

For part-time and casual employees, this amount changes based on the size of the area they need to clean. Even if the employee can finish the job early, they still have to be paid the minimum hours based on the size of the cleaning area.

For more information on when hours can be worked and how many hours need to be provided, see Hours of work.

Employees cannot be paid per job.

Example: Can't be paid per job

Jen works as a casual employee for a contract cleaning business. Jen’s supervisor asks her to clean a new office and that her payment will be $50 for cleaning it. This work is to be done during normal business hours.

Jen doesn’t know how long it will take her to clean this new office so asks her supervisor the floor size. Her supervisor tells her the total cleaning area is 4000 square metres.

Jen knows that for this size area she should be paid for at least 3 hours work.

Jen is covered by the Cleaning Award. As a Level 1 employee under the Cleaning Award, Jen is entitled to a minimum rate of $30.09 per hour. Therefore, she should receive more than $50.

Jen shows her supervisor the Cleaning Award and her supervisor agrees that she will be paid for the full 3 hours.

Minimum rates, penalty rates, allowances and overtime

The Cleaning Award sets out minimum rates of pay for employees. An employee can’t be paid less than the minimum rate of pay in the award.

Depending on the nature and type of work, and the time of that work, employees also may be entitled to several different payments on top of their base rate of pay.

Allowances

An allowance is an additional payment made to employees for doing certain tasks, working in certain locations, using a special skill or for expenses incurred for doing their job.

Some examples of common allowances under the Cleaning Award include:

  • refuse collection allowance
  • toilet cleaning allowance
  • uniform allowance
  • travel allowance.

An employee who works on a broken shift, where their hours are split up across a single day, may also be entitled to an allowance.

You can find more information on our Allowances page.

Penalty rates

Employees who work in the early morning, at night, on weekends and on public holidays may also be entitled to penalty rates on the hours they work.

You can use our Pay Calculator tool to see what allowances or penalty rates might apply.

Example: Minimum rates of pay

Carlos is an international student who works part-time as a cleaner for a business, cleaning homes and apartments. This is Carlos’ first job in Australia and he is paid a flat rate of $20 per hour every day. Carlos’ friend tells him that doesn’t sound right, and he should look into it.

Carlos uses the Pay and Conditions Tool on fairwork.gov.au to check his pay rate. Carlos learns he is a casual Cleaning Services Employee Level 1 and that his pay rate comes from the Cleaning Services Award 2020 (Cleaning Award). Under the Cleaning Award some of the minimum rates of pay from 1 July 2023 for a casual Level 1 employee are:

  • $30.09 per hour on weekdays
  • $42.12 per hour on Saturdays
  • $54.16 per hour on Sundays.

Carlos learns that other penalty rates and allowances can apply at other times. Carlos also learns that that minimum pay rates are reviewed every year and any increases usually apply from the first full pay period on or after 1 July each year.

Carlos prints out the pay rates and shows them to his boss. His boss says they are too high, and he can’t pay Carlos those rates.

Carlos reports the issue to the Fair Work Ombudsman using My account. He attaches evidence of the underpayment, including his pay slips and rosters, and explains that he couldn’t resolve the issue with his employer.

A Fair Work Inspector looks at the evidence and finds that the business has broken workplace laws and underpaid Carlos. The Fair Work Inspector issues a compliance notice to Carlos’ boss that requires the business to fix the underpayments within 28 days or risk facing legal action.

Two weeks later, the business back pays Carlos all the money he is owed and starts paying him the correct minimum hourly rates, penalty rates and allowances.

Overtime

Overtime is when an employee works extra time and receives overtime rates of pay. The Cleaning Award sets out the circumstances in which overtime rates apply.

For more information, see When overtime applies.

Tools and resources

Related information