R&CA MEDIA RELEASE: Award changes to delivery flexibility, simplicity & certainty for thousands of small business across Australia

Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) has welcomed the decision of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) today to grant final approval for a raft of important changes to the Restaurant Industry Award (RIA) designed to delivery greater flexibility, simplicity and certainty for thousands of struggling restaurants and cafes across Australia.

R&CA CEO Wes Lambert said the changes, proposed by R&CA to the commission earlier this year, represented the single largest suite of changes to the RIA in more than a decade.

‘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’, Mr Lambert said.

‘These changes, that were developed in close consultation with business owners and were continually improved by meaningful and constructive engagement with employee representatives, are nothing short of revolutionary for our sector’.

‘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 ABS shows for Food and Beverage Services, our sector has shed 12% per cent of all workers compared to 14 March 2020.

‘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’, Mr Lambert said.

The changes approved by the commission, available by agreement, include:

  • A new ‘exemption rate’, similar to other hospitality awards, which removes onerous administrative requirements for senior staff and provides greater simplicity and certainty for employers. 
  • A simplified classification structure for food and beverage and kitchen stream employees that better reflects the practical way employees often work especially in smaller businesses covered by the RIA.
  • A simpler mechanism for calculating a series of allowances by using a set hourly rate rather relying on each instance they are accrued. This change will provide greater business certainty and simplicity when predicting wage costs into the future.

The changes will operate from 11 August 2021 to 10 August 2022 and will be overseen by a monitoring committee comprised of representatives of both R&CA and the United Workers Union (UWU).

R&CA thanked Commission President Justice Ross for his meaningful engagement and leadership in bringing the parties together and assisting in the resolution of this important matter.