FWC approves largest number of changes to Restaurant Industry Award in over a decade

Restaurant Industry Award

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has granted the largest number of changes to the Restaurant Industry Award (RIA) in more than 10 years. These changes are designed to give Australian cafés and restaurants greater flexibility, simplicity, and operational certainty.

Active from 11 August 2021 to 10 August 2022, the approved changes include a new exemption rate, which similar to other hospitality awards, aims to remove administrative requirements on senior staff.

A simplified classification structure for food and beverage and kitchen employees will also be introduced, seeking to reflect an accurate and practical way that employees work. This change targets smaller businesses the RIA covers.

The FWC has also altered the method for calculating a set of allowances. Rather than adding up each individual instance, this new method uses a set hourly rate. This change seeks to provide increased business certainty and simplicity when calculating future wage costs.

A monitoring committee will oversee these changes, consisting of representatives from Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) and the United Workers Union.

Wes Lambert, CEO of R&CA welcomes the FWC’s decision, saying R&C proposed these changes in early 2021.

“The changes agreed to by the commission today will allow tens of thousands of struggling hospitality businesses across the country to gain access to the flexibility and simplicity they need to recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” says Wes.

According to Wes, R&CA’s proposed changes were developed through close consultation and meaningful engagement with business owners and employee representatives.

“Our sector continues to be decimated by the impact of ongoing lockdowns, restrictions, and the international impacts of the COVID-19 virus. Recent data from the [Australian Bureau of Statistics] shows for Food and Beverage Services, our sector has shed 12 per cent of all workers compared to 14 March 2020,” says Wes.

R&CA thanks Justice Ross, FWC President, for his meaningful engagement and leadership in bringing the parties together.

“These changes are more important to our sector now more than ever, especially against a backdrop of crippling skills shortages, uncertainty from snap lockdowns and the lack of any foreseeable international travel that continues to loom large over our sector,” Wes says.

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