Temporary changes to the Restaurant Industry Award – Coronavirus

Another Modern Award has been varied just yesterday due to the impacts of Coronavirus. The temporary changes to the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 are explained below.

In an application to the Fair Work Commission dated 30 March 2020 the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association (RCI), with the support of the United Workers Union (UWU) and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) sought to vary the Award to help mitigate against the current impacts of Coronavirus on employees and employers covered by the Award.

Prior to the approving the application, the Commission was advised that changes to the Restaurant Industry Award were necessary due to the following impacts:

“The restaurant and catering industry is currently materially impacted by CoV. Restaurants, cafes and food court outlets can no longer trade, save for the provision of takeaway and/or delivery services. Those still attending work are adopting new work patterns to reduce the level of exposure to colleagues and clients. This includes rostering a limited number of employees into work at any one time and spacing employees out in the relevant worksite. Some workplaces are closing to enable them to transition their business from a traditional restaurant model to a takeaway delivery business. These closures will necessitate placing employees on leave for a period, whilst the business explores the transition to a new business model. The businesses have no choice in this matter, given the directives issued by the Federal Government and supported by State Government public health orders”.

Like other recent variations, a schedule has been added to the Award “Schedule I—Award Flexibility during the COVID-19 Pandemic” and will take effect from the employee’s first full pay period that starts on or after the approval from the Commission (31 March 2020) and runs until 30 June 2020.

Below is a summary of the main changes:


  • Employees can now be directed to work in any classification having regard to their individual skill and competency, safety and qualifications. Higher duties will apply to employees engaged on duties carrying a higher rate than their ordinary classification.
  • The employer may direct a full-time employee to work on average between 22.8 and 38 hours per roster cycle, and will be paid on a pro-rata basis.
  • The employer may direct a part-time employee to work 60% and 100% of their guaranteed hours per week, or an average of between 60% and 100% of the guaranteed hours per week over the roster cycle.
  • Where employers make changes to hours of work as described above, they must first consult employees in accordance with the consultation provisions under the Award, and also where the United Workers Union is involved in the workplace, the Union needs to be notified of the intention to make changes.
  • On the above points, leave will still accrue on the ordinary hours that were in place prior to any agreement being reached, and any paid annual leave taken will be paid on the hours prior to the change.

The above measures around hours do no prevent an employer and an individual employee coming to an agreement to reduce hours or change from full time to part time during the period specified.

Annual leave:

  • The employer can direct the employee to take a period of annual leave provided 24 hours notice is given, as long as the employee’s personal circumstances are considered.
  • The employer and employee can also agree for leave to be taken at any time also.
  • An employer and an employee may agree to the employee taking twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay for all or part of any period of annual leave.
  • The employer can require an employee to take annual leave as part of a close-down of its operations, or part of its operations, by giving at least one week’s notice, or any shorter period of notice that may be agreed. If the employee has some annual leave accrued they are able to take it during the closedown period (does not have to take it unpaid).

As mentioned these are only temporary changes to the Restaurant Industry Award and they are due to end on 30 June 2020, unless amended.

The full decision can be read here.

This general information is not intended to be advice of any form. We recommend seeking specific advice for your situation. To book in a free Introductory call, contact Industryus HR on 07 5655 4047 or book in here.

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