Employment obligations in the café and restaurant sector

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A campaign is currently being conducted by Private Sector Labour Relations to promote compliance with employment laws for cafe and restaurant businesses in the state industrial relations system. The campaign commenced in October 2019 and was suspended in March 2020 for a period of time due to COVID-19, before re-commencing later in 2020.

Industrial inspectors from Private Sector Labour Relations audited 77 cafes and restaurants from October 2019 to October 2020, identifying a total of $348,890 in underpayments on behalf of employees. Of this amount, $186,133 has been recovered to 30 September 2020. Industrial inspectors will continue to pursue the balance through voluntary rectification, formal investigation and court proceedings. Our full media release is available to read.

The findings from the first stage of the proactive compliance campaign have been released and can be viewed in the Evaluation Report – cafes and restaurants campaign - October 2019 - October 2020.

As there were high levels of non-compliance found in the proactive compliance campaign, the campaign will be continued with another round of inspection visits to cafes and restaurants commencing in November 2020. Businesses will be inspected to check whether employees are receiving their correct wages and entitlements, and whether proper records are being kept by employers.

Café and restaurants in the state industrial relations system are those where the businesses operate as:

  • sole traders (e.g. Jane Smith trading as Jane’s Cafe)
  • unincorporated partnerships (e.g. Jane and Bob Smith trading as Jane’s Cafe)
  • unincorporated trust arrangements (e.g. Jane and Bob Smith as trustees for Jane’s Cafe)

Key employment obligations for café and restaurant business owners:

The information brochure provided to business owners titled Pay rates for cafe and restaurant staff - Legal employment obligations of cafe and restaurant business owners is available in English, Hindi, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese.

Staff pay and entitlements

You must pay all staff at least the WA Award rate of pay relevant to their age and for every hour worked in the business according to the Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers’ Award.

The correct legal rates of pay are available to view on the WA Award Summary - Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers Award page. It is unlawful for employers to pay employees less than the rate of pay outlined in this WA Award.

Review your records and ensure employees are receiving the correct wage for their age and employment type (e.g. casuals must receive a 25% loading). 

The pay rates in the Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers’ Award apply:

  • in all metropolitan and regional areas of Western Australia;
  • to all employees working in a café or restaurant as wait staff, baristas, kitchenhands, counterhands, chefs, cooks and other roles related to the preparation of food and serving of customers;
  • to all full time, part time and casual staff; and
  • to all staff working on student visas, working holiday visas and temporary skilled visas.

Leave entitlements

You also must provide leave entitlements for all staff as required by the Restaurant Tearooms and Catering Workers’ Award, Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 and the Long Service Leave Act 1958
This quick reference guide shows basic leave entitlements for full time, part time and casual employees.

Leave entitlement Full time employees Part time employees Casual employees
Paid annual leave Yes Yes No
Paid sick and carer's leave Yes Yes No
Unpaid carer's leave Yes Yes Yes
Paid bereavement leave Yes Yes Yes
Unpaid parental leave Yes Yes Yes
Unpaid parental leave Yes Yes Yes

You can find extensive information about annual, sick and other leave or information specifically about long service leave on the Wageline website.

The WA Award Summary - Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers Award provides further information on leave entitlement for employees.

Record keeping

You must keep employment records for all employees of the business. 

The Restaurant Tearoom and Catering Workers’ Award specifies that employers must keep employment records for all employees of the business which detail:

  • the employee’s name
  • the employee’s date of birth if under 21 years of age
  • the date the employment started
  • daily start and finish time and meal breaks taken
  • the number of ordinary hours and the number of overtime hours worked each day and the totals for each pay period
  • total number of hours worked each week
  • the gross and net amounts paid to the employee, including any allowances paid;
  • all pay deductions and the reasons for them
  • all leave taken, whether paid, partly paid or unpaid
  • all information required to calculate long service leave entitlements and payment
  • name of the WA award (for the café and restaurant sector this is the Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers Award)
  • employment status (such as full time, part time, casual)
  • employee classification level under the award (the Restaurant, Tearoom and Catering Workers Award has 6 classification levels, based on the duties the employee is doing)
  • any other information necessary to prove that the wages received by an employee comply with the requirements of the Restaurant Tearoom and Catering Workers Award, such as overtime hours worked and allowances paid. 

Employment records can be written or electronic, and must be kept in English.

Visit the Record keeping requirements page for more information, including six suggested templates. The templates have been designed to help businesses meet legislative record keeping requirements.

Employers can be penalised up to $5,000 for not keeping employment records, or for keeping inadequate or fraudulent records.

If I have questions about my employment obligations such as pay rates and leave who should I contact?

State system employers should view information on pay rates on this website or contact Wageline on 1300 655 266.

Other employment obligations

Café and restaurant owners have a range of other employment obligations - find out where you can get help with these.


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