I'm not sure which award covers my business

Finding out which award applies to your business is essential to understanding your obligations and paying your employees their correct entitlements.

Not knowing the law can create problems for your workplace and lead to serious penalties.

How to find the right award

Before you start - information you need

  • Information about the main industry of your business.
  • Details of the duties your staff perform.

Steps to take

1. Work out if the business is covered by an award

  • Awards won’t apply to a business covered by a registered agreement.
  • Awards apply to employees and employers depending on the industry they work in and the job they do.

2. Read the award in more detail for clarification

  • In some cases, awards may be similar and it can be difficult deciding which one applies. For example, there are three awards that could apply to a business in the hospitality, restaurant or takeaway industry - the Hospitality Award, the Restaurant Award, and the Fast Food Award. 
  • You can use Find my award to help you work out which award applies to each employee based on the work they do.
  • To read an award in more detail visit List of awards. To work out if an award applies you should read:
    • the coverage clause (usually clause 4)
    • the job classifications (check in a schedule at the bottom of the award).
  • We also have award specific information you can search for in our Library.
  • For information on how to read and apply job classifications, see Award classifications

3. If your business is covered by more than one award

  • A business may be covered by more than one award. Depending on the type of work your business and employees do, different awards could apply to different employees.
  • For example, a construction business that is covered by the Building and Construction Award for their qualified carpenters may also be covered by the Clerks Award for their office staff.
  • The award that applies will depend on the following:
    • the primary industry of the employer
    • the classification most appropriate to the work performed by the employee and the industry in which they work
    • where there is no award covering the industry, consider an award providing coverage for the specific occupation
    • any exclusions listed in the award.

4. Check our website for information if no award applies

Example: Which award applies?

Gerard runs a café that has seating for customers but also provides take away service. He’s not sure if he’s covered by the Restaurant Award or the Fast Food Award.

Gerard reads the coverage (clause 4) and definitions (clause 3) sections of both awards.

The Fast Food Award says it covers businesses that sell food that is primarily consumed away from the point of sale. While Gerard does do some take away, most of his business is made up of customers who sit and eat at his café.

He reads the Restaurant Award and can see that the definition of ‘restaurant industry’ includes cafés. Gerard is confident his business is covered by the Restaurant Award.

Best practice tip

Award rates generally change every year and the Fair Work Commission may vary an award at any time. Subscribe to our email updates to keep informed about significant changes that affect you.

If you need more support

If you're still unable to work out which award applies you can call us to speak to a helpful adviser.

If you are a member of an employer association you can also seek assistance from them directly.

Employer Advisory Service

Our Employer Advisory Service (EAS) gives eligible small businesses free tailored written advice on pay and entitlement issues.

The service assists employers in understanding and complying with pay and entitlement obligations under awards and the Fair Work Act.

If you’re a small business employer, learn more about the service, to see if you’re eligible and find out how to access it at Employer Advisory Service – overview.

Other common workplace problems

Tools and resources

Related information