COVID-19 leads to temporary additional flexibility in the Hospitality Award

27 March 2020

Following an application by the Australian Hotels Association and the United Workers’ Union, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has varied the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The award changes took effect on 24 March 2020 and will apply until 30 June 2020. 

The amendments to the award are specifically targeted at assisting the hospitality industry maintain its workforce during this challenging time.

The effect of the amendments are that:

  • employers will have increased flexibility in relation to employees’ hours of work. Provided they first consult with affected employees and any unions, an employer can now direct:
  • a full time employee to reduce their weekly hours of work to 22.8 hours; and
  • a part time employee to reduce their weekly hours of work by up to 60%;
  • employees will continue to accrue annual leave and personal/carer’s leave based on their previous hours of work;
  • employers can now direct employees to take annual leave with as little as 24 hours’ notice;
  • an employee who takes a period of annual leave may agree with their employer to take twice as much leave at half their rate of pay;
  • employers can now direct employees to perform duties that fall outside their award classification, provided those duties are within the employee’s skill and competence, the duties are safe, the employee is licensed and qualified to perform them, and the ‘higher duties’ provisions of the award are applied.

In making these changes, the Fair Work Commission has acknowledged that the Government restrictions currently in place will likely have a substantial impact on the hospitality sector, even with State and Federal financial assistance packages.  The Commission is hopeful that the changes will enable as many employees as possible to keep their jobs, albeit on reduced hours.

If you would like advice about how these changes to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award may affect your business or employment, please contact our team of expert employment and industrial relations lawyers.


This article provides general comments only.  It does not purport to be legal advice.  Before acting on the basis of any material contained in this article, we recommend that you seek professional advice.




Paul Dugan, Principal in our Disputes Team

Direct Telephone:  +61 8 8210 2266


Kylie Dunn, Senior Associate in our Disputes Team

Direct Telephone:  +61 8 8210 2286