Hospitality Award flexibility during coronavirus

Published 25 March 2020 | Updated 30 July 2020

Extension of temporary award flexibility in the Hospitality Award

The Fair Work Commission has extended and changed Schedule J in the Hospitality Award.

The new Schedule J applies from 1 July until 27 September 2020 and includes changes:

  • excluding employees and employers in the JobKeeper scheme
  • adding conditions for directions to change an employee's hours of work
  • adding extra safeguards around requests to take annual leave.

We've updated this page to reflect these changes.

On 24 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) made a determination external-icon.png varying the Hospitality Award.

The determination inserted a temporary new Schedule J from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 24 March 2020. Schedule J added extra flexibility to help employers and employees during the impact of coronavirus. It was initially due to stop operating on 30 June 2020.

On 29 June 2020, the Commission made a new determination external-icon.png that extended and changed parts of Schedule J, including who it applies to. The updated Schedule applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020 until 27 September 2020.

The Commission can continue to extend Schedule J, if an application is made by an interested party. We'll update our information if that happens.

Who does it apply to?

The new Schedule J applies to some employers and employees covered by the Hospitality Award. Use Find my award if you’re not sure which award applies to you.

From the first full pay period or on after 1 July 2020, Schedule J no longer applies to employees and their employers in the JobKeeper scheme. Instead, these employers can use the temporary Fair Work Act JobKeeper provisions to manage their workforce more flexibly.

For information about the JobKeeper scheme and the Fair Work Act JobKeeper provisions, see JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

Extended parts of Schedule J that apply until 27 September 2020

Requirements of a direction under Schedule J

From the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020, if an employer gives a direction under Schedule J, they have to tell the employee in writing that the employer agrees to the Commission arbitrating any disputes about that direction.

Any direction given under Schedule J stops applying at the earlier date of either:

  • when the employer withdraws, revokes or replaces the direction, or
  • on 27 September 2020.

Change in employee duties

While Schedule J applies, employers can direct their employees to perform any tasks that they have the skill and competency for, even if those tasks aren’t in the employee's usual classification or normal work. The tasks need to be safe, and the employee has to have all the appropriate licences and qualifications to perform the tasks.

When an employee performs duties of a higher classification than their normal classification for less than 2 hours in a day, the employer needs to pay them the higher classification rate for the hours they perform the duties. If the employee performs the duties of a higher classification for 2 hours or more, the employer needs to pay them the higher classification rate for the whole day. This doesn’t apply to employees classified as food and beverage attendants grade 2 or 3.

Employees who perform tasks of a classification lower than their usual classification are still paid at their usual pay rate.

Example: employee directed to do deliveries

Mia is a waiter who usually removes food and clears tables. She’s paid as a food and beverage attendant grade 1 under the Hospitality Award.

Due to an enforceable government direction, the pub she works at is currently only doing limited dine-in service and mainly sells takeaway food.

Mia has a driver's licence and a car. Under the new Hospitality Award flexibility arrangements, Mia’s employer directs her to deliver food to customers. She’s paid as a food and beverage attendant grade 2 for these higher duties.

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Hours of work for full-time and part-time employees

Employers can reduce their permanent employees' hours of work to an average of:

  • between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours each week for full-time employees
  • between 60% and 100% of their guaranteed hours per week, or over the roster cycle, for part-time employees.

From the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020, an employer can only reduce a full-time or part-time employee’s hours if:

  • the direction is reasonable in all the circumstances
  • the direction is in writing
  • the employee can’t be usefully employed for their normal days or hours during the period of the direction because of business changes attributable to:
    • the coronavirus pandemic, or
    • government initiatives to slow the transmission of coronavirus.

If an employer wants to reduce a part-time or full-time employee's hours, they need to discuss the changes with them, making sure they:

  • follow the award’s consultation rules about changes to rosters or hours of work
  • provide as much notice as they can.

If an employee is a member of a union, their employer also needs to let their union know this change is happening.

Leave entitlements while working reduced hours

An employee who is directed to work less hours still accrues annual leave, personal leave and any other leave based on their ordinary hours before Schedule J started.

If an employee with reduced hours takes annual leave or personal leave, they’re paid for their ordinary hours for the time they take leave (based on their hours before Schedule J started).

Example: reduction of hours

Augustus works as a full-time clerical assistant at a bespoke taphouse and winery. He's employed as a clerical grade 2 worker under the Hospitality Award.

Because of an enforceable government direction, Augustus's employer lets him know that as the business is now only selling takeaways, the amount of administrative work has reduced and they need to reduce his hours.

Augustus, his organiser from the United Workers Union, and his employer sit down together and work through the consultation clause. His employer listens to his concerns, and they all agree Augustus will work 25 hours per week until 31 August, when they'll reassess the situation.

In July, Augustus is sick with coronavirus and takes sick leave while he's unwell. Augustus is entitled to be paid for 38 hours each week while he's on sick leave because this is what his ordinary hours were before.

Secondary employment, training or professional development while on reduced hours

From the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020, if an employee is temporarily directed to work reduced hours, they can request to take up:

  • reasonable secondary employment
  • training, or
  • professional development.

Employers need to consider these requests, and can’t unreasonably refuse a request.

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Annual leave

Employers can request an employee to take their accrued annual leave under Schedule J, in some circumstances.

Employers can only make this request if:

  • it is reasonable in all the circumstances
  • the reasons for the request related to the coronavirus pandemic or Government initiatives to slow the transmission of coronavirus
  • it is necessary to help the employer to prevent or minimise the loss of employment
  • the request is in writing
  • they take into account their employee's personal situation
  • the employee will still have at least 2 weeks’ accrued annual leave left after taking the leave.

The employee has to consider the request and can’t unreasonably refuse it.

The annual leave has to start before 12 September 2020 but can end after that date.

Employers and employees can still agree for an employee to take annual leave at any other time.

To direct an employee to take annual leave (including unpaid leave in some circumstances), employers can use our Template letter for directing employees to take annual leave during the coronavirus outbreak (DOCX 79.6KB) (PDF 1MB).

Annual leave at half pay

Employees can also agree with their employer to take their annual leave at half pay, and double their time off work.

This means an employee gets payment for 1 week of annual leave (including annual leave loading if it applies) for every 2 weeks of annual leave they take.

An employee on leave at half pay accumulates annual leave and sick and carer’s leave as if they were on leave at full pay.

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Employees covered by an agreement

The changes to the Hospitality Award don’t apply to employees covered by an enterprise agreement.

Find out if your workplace is covered by an agreement on the Fair Work Commission website – Find an agreement external-icon.png

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Schedule J provisions that don’t apply after 30 June 2020

The information below outlines the Schedule J provisions that applied between 24 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. This information is historical and no longer applies.

See Extended parts of Schedule J that apply until 27 September 2020 for information about which parts of Schedule J apply now.

Annual leave

Between 24 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, employers could direct an employee to take annual leave under Schedule J by:

  • giving their employees at least 24 hours notice
  • considering their employee's personal situation.

After 30 June, employees can no longer do this under the updated Schedule J.

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More information

Any dispute about the operation of Schedule J can be referred to the Commission. Go to Interpret or enforce an award - Disputes about how an award applies external-icon.png on the Fair Work Commission website for more information.

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