Last updated: July 2019

Running a payroll for a busy restaurant, cafe or takeaway can be daunting for a new business owner. There’s a lot of compliance with superannuation and PAYG tax. Add to that, trying to decipher the complex Fair Work awards for the food industry and you’ve got a big job on your hands.

Read on for tips, downloads and listen to a recent radio interview with Christine Green on Perth Radio 6PR that discussed the challenges of food industry payroll awards.

Most restaurants and cafes have a mix of full-time and casual employees. Some are entitled to meal allowances, tiered overtime rates and a multitude of conditions.

For the food industry alone there is a long list of awards to be considered. Depending on the tasks carried out, and your style of business, an employee may fall under either of these:

  • Restaurant Industry Award
  • Fast Food Industry Award
  • Hospitality Industry General Award
  • Registered and Licensed Clubs Award
  • Food Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award
  • Clerks Private Sector Award (for office/admin staff)

Radio Interview – Fair Work And The Complex Awards

Are the complex food industry awards making your payroll management a nightmare?
Should Fair Work overhaul the awards and make them easier to understand?
Is the compliance required to run a business too much for the average restaurant and cafe owner?

Listen to Christine Green’s interview on Perth Radio 6PR discussing these questions and the challenges of keeping payroll compliant.
Note: The comments by the interviewer are not necessarily those of Restaurant Bookkeepers Australia.

Which Award Is For Your Restaurant Or Cafe?

According to Fair Work:
“Where an employer is covered by more than one award, an employee of that employer is covered by the award classification which is most appropriate to the work performed by the employee and to the environment in which the employee normally performs the work.”

The trick to finding the right award is knowing your style of business and tasks that will be performed by the employee. These are the 3 most common awards for restaurants and cafes:

Fast Food Industry Award applies to an employee engaged in the preparation, the receipt of orders, cooking, sale, serving or delivery of meals, snacks and/or beverages which are sold to the public primarily to take away or in food courts in shopping centres and retail complexes. Food is usually consumed away from the point of sale and packaged for removal.

Restaurant Industry Award applies to restaurants, reception centres, night clubs, cafes, coffee shops, bars and roadhouses, and includes any tea room, cafe and catering by a restaurant business where the business mainly sells food and beverages to be eaten on the premises and/or offers sit down and table service.

There are various classifications and definitions of roles in a restaurant that will affect the employee, eg: Food and Beverage Attendant vs Kitchen Attendant vs Cook vs Clerical vs Stores vs Security, etc.

Hospitality Industry General Award covers employers throughout Australia in the hospitality industry and their employees. Hospitality industry includes hotels, motor inns and motels, boarding establishments, condominiums and establishments of a similar nature, health or recreational farms, private hotels, guest houses, serviced apartments, caravan parks, ski lodges, holiday flats or units, ranches or farms, hostels or any other type of residential or tourist accommodation, wine saloons, wine bars or taverns, liquor booths, resorts, caterers, restaurants operated in or in connection with premises owned or operated by employers otherwise covered by this award, casinos, function areas and convention or like facilities operating in association with the aforementioned.

Fair Work Wage Decision Tools

The Fair Work decision tools make choosing the correct award much easier. However, don’t rely on them as being the sole information source as the results may be skewed. They are merely a guide to point you in the right direction for further research. Always keep a copy of the results in the employee’s file for reference.

To start your search, use the Fair Work FIND MY AWARD decision tool.

Next up, use the PAY CALCULATOR to step through job roles and find an hourly rate and matching award.

Key Points To Note

When engaging an employee, allocate the appropriate award and keep copies of the award documentation on the employee’s file. You may need this later to justify your calculations.

When reading an award, go to the COVERAGE section to understand the scope.

Use Fair Work decision tools to help you select the correct award. Print and keep the results on file to justify employee wages.

Document company policies (eg: code of conduct, KPIs, etc.) to augment payroll awards. Have employees sign off after being trained in your policies. Keep records on file.

Minimum wages are just that — minimum. You can’t pay less than the minimum. However, you will retain staff if you pay higher than minimum.

Take note of the ALLOWANCES and SPECIAL CLOTHING section as some wait and kitchen staff may be entitled to them.

If your employees travel between locations, they are entitled to a reimbursement. Have a look at the TRAVELLING content as it can add up fast.

While a full-time employee is required to work 38 hours per week, an employee may be rostered to work up to a maximum of 11 ordinary hours on any day (provided breaks are given). Refer to the awards for more detail.

Check out PENALTY and OVERTIME rates for evening and weekend shifts. They are varied, so study them carefully.

An employee and employer may agree to the full-time employee taking time off instead of being paid for a particular amount of overtime that has been worked by the employee. The period of time off that an employee is entitled to take is equivalent to the overtime payment that would have been made.

EXAMPLE: By making an agreement, an employee who worked 2 overtime hours at the rate of time and a half is entitled to 3 hours’ time off.

Download the free Pay Guides from Fair Work to keep on hand at your restaurant, cafe or take away.

This is an example of a Fair Work Payroll Calculator report for a Level 2 Barista, casual, 20 years or over. It clarifies the hourly rates, correct award and penalty rates for overtime.  (note this example is not at current rates so check Fair Work for  the latest information).

  1. Barista example decision tool result.

There are many more components of an award. It’s worth your time to download and read the full award in detail so you know where you stand.

Seek advice from an experienced payroll professional to help you keep wages on track and keep you out of trouble.

Contact Restaurant Bookkeepers Australia for a confidential chat.

Disclaimer: The above information is general information extracted from Fair Work and does not constitute advice for your particular situation.

There are many more components of an award. It’s worth your time to download and read the full award in detail so you know where you stand.
Can’t find the awards? Call or send an email via our Contact page if you want us to email the awards direct to you.