Restaurant Award flexibility during coronavirus

Published on 31 March 2020 | Updated 1 October 2020

Expiry of Restaurant Award temporary flexibility schedule

Schedule I in the Restaurant Award stopped applying after 27 September 2020. This means that employers and employees can no longer use the flexibility provisions in Schedule I for changes to:

  • an employee’s classification and duties
  • full-time and part-time employees’ hours of work
  • requests to take annual leave.

Employers and employees need to use the standard award provisions instead. To learn more about these provisions, go to:

Select the Restaurant industry to see tailored information for you.

We’ve updated the information on this page to reflect these changes.

On 31 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) made a determination external-icon.png varying the Restaurant Award.

The determination inserted a temporary new Schedule I from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 31 March 2020. Schedule I added extra flexibility to help employers and employees during the impact of coronavirus.

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

Who did it apply to?

Schedule I applied to some employers and employees covered by the Restaurant Award.

From the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020, Schedule I no longer applied to employees and their employers in the JobKeeper scheme. Instead, these employers could 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 scheme - overview.

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What doesn’t apply after 27 September 2020

The information below outlines the Schedule I provisions that applied between 1 July 2020 and 27 September 2020. This information is historical and no longer applies.

Requirements of a direction under Schedule I

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

Any direction given under Schedule I stopped applying at the earlier date of either:

  • when the employer withdrew, revoked or replaced the direction, or
  • on 27 September 2020.

Change in employee duties

While Schedule I applied, an employer could direct their employees to perform any tasks that the employee had the skill and competency for, even if those tasks weren’t in the employee’s usual classification or normal work. The tasks had to be safe and the employee needed to have all the appropriate licences and qualifications to perform the tasks.

When an employee performed duties of a higher classification than their normal classification for less than 2 hours in a day, the employer needed to pay the employee at the higher classification rate for the hours they performed the duties. If the employee performed duties of a higher classification for 2 hours or more in a day, the employer needed to pay them at the higher classification rate for the whole day.

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

Example: Employee directed to do tasks at a higher level

Lindsay works part-time at a local toastie and coffee bar as a food and beverage attendant grade 1. With social distancing rules in place because of coronavirus, Lindsay's employer has had to cancel several casual employees’ shifts due to a drop in trade.

Lindsay's employer has asked Lindsay to pick up some of the extra work, including making the coffees.

Lindsay is happy to do this having recently completed a course to become a barista. Lindsay works as a barista for 3 hours a day.

Lindsay is paid as a food and beverage attendant grade 2 for their entire shift when they work as a barista.

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

Under Schedule I, employers could reduce their full-time or part-time employees' hours of work so that the employee worked 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 until 27 September 202, an employer could only reduce a full-time or part-time employee’s hours if:

  • the direction was reasonable in all the circumstances
  • the direction was in writing
  • the employee couldn'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 wanted to reduce a part-time or full-time employee's hours, they had to discuss the changes with the employee, making sure they:

  • followed the award’s consultation rules about changes to rosters or hours of work
  • provided as much notice as they could.

If an employee is a member of the United Workers 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 I started.

If an employee was a member of the United Workers Union, their employer also needed to let their union know this change was happening.

Example: Reduction of hours

Harrison runs a Chinese restaurant in a beach side town and employs 8 staff under the Restaurant Award.

Due to an enforceable government direction, Harrison’s restaurant has limited dine-in service and mainly sells takeaway food. This means he doesn't have enough work for all his staff and needs to reduce the hours of his full-time and part-time employees.

Some of Harrison’s employees are members of the United Workers Union. Harrison invites his employees and their United Workers Union organiser to an online meeting. During the meeting, they work through the award consultation clause, and Harrison listens to his employees' concerns about a reduction in their hours and how it will be managed. Harrison considers employees' and the Union's concerns, and then calls another meeting to explain that all full-time and part-time employees' hours will need to be reduced.

Harrison's employees will work 15% less hours per week until 31 August 2020, when they'll reassess the situation.

In July, one of Harrison's full-time employees who is working reduced hours gets sick and takes two weeks of paid sick leave while they're unwell. Harrison pays that employee for 38 hours each week while they're on sick leave because these were their ordinary hours before.

Secondary employment, training or professional development while on reduced hours

From the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020 until 27 September 2020, if an employee was temporarily directed to work reduced hours, they could request to take up:

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

Employers needed to consider these requests, and couldn't unreasonably refuse a request.

Annual leave

Under Schedule I, employers could request an employee take their accrued annual leave in some circumstances.

Employers could only make this request if:

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

The employee had to consider the request and couldn't unreasonably refuse it.

The annual leave had to start before 13 September 2020 but could end after that date.

Annual leave at half pay

Under Schedule I, employees could also agree with their employer to take their annual leave at half pay, and double their time off work.

This meant that an employee got payment for 1 week of annual leave (including annual leave loading if it applied) for every 2 weeks of annual leave they took.

An employee on leave at half pay accumulated 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 Restaurant Award didn’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 I provisions that stopped applying after 30 June 2020

The information below outlines the Schedule I provisions that applied between 31 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. This information is historical and no longer applies.

Annual leave

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

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

Close down of business

Between 31 March and 30 June 2020, if a business was closing down for a period, employers could direct their employees to take annual leave under Schedule I by giving them at least 1 week’s notice (or any shorter period of notice that was agreed).

If an employee didn’t have enough paid annual leave to cover the whole period, the employer could direct them to take unpaid leave for the remainder of the close down. The period of unpaid leave counted as service for entitlements under the:

  • Restaurant Award
  • National Employment Standards.

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More information

Any dispute about the operation of Schedule I 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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