Are you currently working in the hospitality or events industry as a casual staff employee, and are unfamiliar with industry entitlements? It pays to know the difference between enterprise bargaining agreement and the various awards that represent the hospitality industry to ensure that you do not get taken advantage of. Do your research here!


Entering the workforce can be exciting time for some. That allure of a paycheque, the independence it creates and the thoughts of what you will spend your hard earned money on. Whether you’re a school leaver, a student looking to balance your priorities or a working holiday maker who has just landed on our sunny shores, you’ll need to ensure your job lives up to expectations in the pay department.

EBA vs. General Award

Most large hospitality groups these days offer an EBA or EA, meaning Enterprise Bargaining Agreement or Enterprise Agreement. By definition, “Awards apply to employees depending on the industry they work in or the job that they do. Enterprise awards apply to specific businesses”.

That is, the agreement is specifically created to work in the employers environment or business and agreed upon between the employer and employees, simply put, there are one set of specific rules that define pay rates, break entitlements and general employment conditions. Generally the base pay rate is lower than the award, meaning you earn less than you would in an award environment. Although, you may receive other benefits or entitlements such as free laundry, included meals on duty etc.


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A base rate in this “EA”environment will most likely be “fixed” no matter when you work throughout the week. For example, working Monday at 4pm-11pm you may earn the same per hour as Sunday 10am-6pm. The minimum wages and conditions an employee is entitled to are set out in awards (also known as modern awards). Although, awards don’t apply when a business has an enterprise agreement or other registered agreement and the employee is covered by it.

These “modern” awards are structured and managed by Fair Work and regulated across the country to ensure that employees are covered by industry accepted and enforced pay rates, penalties and employment conditions. Meaning there are set rates for working at different times of the day/week. 

Now, this is a hot topic in the industry at the moment due to costs that employers have to honor to employ staff at the various levels of employment. More specifically, Saturday and Sunday rates. To find out more about award rates and the type of work most suited to your current situation visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website Awards section.

Once you’re comfortable with the structure of the employment agreements on offer, there are a few other things that you should check off before accepting employment.


Always get paid “on the books” and never accept cash

Being paid cash means in actual fact - you don’t exist. If you don’t exist and you get injured in any way, you wont be eligible for workers compensation insurance or covered by any insurance at all. Think of that!

You’re a long way from home and you get injured at work. Not ideal. Additionally, you can’t earn regulatory entitlements like superannuation, or pay tax and then claim tax.

In short, its illegal for employers to pay staff in cash and if you are looking to stay in Sydney or Australia for the long term, it may come back to bite you!


Pay frequency

Anyone who has ever been paid monthly understands the extraordinary funds management strategy you need to adopt. I’m sure its beneficial to learn how to stretch and manage your money over a 30+ day period, but always opt for weekly if you can, especially if you are a casual worker or student only working 20 hrs per week. Makes sense huh..?

Lastly, always ensure you are being paid by EFT and not cheque. Accepting a cheque will only further delay your pay between 4-7 days.



Your payslips should be delivered at the same time as your pay lands in your bank account. Payslips should be sent electronically, and list items including:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Bank account details
  • The pay rate and time period for each shift you’ve worked
  • Any break entitlements
  • Year to date figures
  • Superannuation fund
  • Your employers business name and ABN

Tax File Number

Lastly, you’ll need a Tax File Number (TFN) to ensure you are able to pay tax and earn a legal wage. You will also need to make sure your employer provides you with a TFN Declaration Form. Pivotal to note - the way in which you complete this form will greatly impact the amount of tax deducted each pay cycle.

So, it may seem like a gritty and boring mine field of information, but when it comes to money and what you are entitled to as an employee, it pays to do a little research. Don’t let the bright lights blind you. Ask questions and seek clarification, that way there will be no surprises during those first few months in your new job.

To learn more about working in hospitality download our free eBook 'An Insider’s Guide To Hospitality For The Curious At Heart’ to discover what kind of hours you could expect to work in various roles, how much you should expect to get paid, what additional benefits are available to you as an employee and more.

Looking for hospitality jobs specifically? Then submit your resume below!


Discover the exciting world of hospitality. It will take you places!

About the author Marlowe Bennett

With 22 years of experience and over 23,000 professional hours working across Sydney’s hospitality industry, our content aims to inspire young candidates to pursue professional careers and to help operators grow compliantly.


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