Since the Hospitality Industry General Award (HIGA) is constantly evolving - with every change of government, regulation update, and the yearly CPI percentage increase, it's important to understand what your entitlements and allowances are for your pay. Unfortunately, HIGA can easily attract underpaying, overpaying, and even exploitation due to a lack of understanding of the Award.


According to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s report in 2018, 72% of hospitality businesses have breached workplace laws. Of the businesses found in breach of these workplace laws, 38% underpaid their staff and 28% of them failed to keep the necessary employment records and pay slips.


With alarming statistics like those, how do you ensure that you’re being paid correctly? We recommend taking it upon yourself to learn your rights and your options. The more you know the better in terms of how employers are required to pay their employees.

Ultimately, the Fair Work Ombudsman is your best reference surrounding all things pay. Read on to verify that you’re aware of all your rights surrounding pay in the hospitality industry.

How It Works


Basically, employers have two options when it comes to awards and agreements surrounding pay within the hospitality industry in order to be legally compliant.

1. Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 (HIGA)


Under the Hospitality Industry (General) Award, it requires the employer to follow the predetermined hourly pay rates. This award includes a variety of schedules and deals with


  • Minimum wages and piecework rates
  • Junior (age bracket rates) to adult rates for, full-time, part-time and casuals
  • Casual loadings on hourly rates
  • Saturday, Sunday, public holiday, evening, and/or other penalties
  • Shift allowances and/or penalties

Detailed information surrounding the definition and operation of allowances, penalties, and over time can be found within the award and the Pay and Conditions Tool. The rates of pay are broken down in very specific classifications such as full-time, part-time, casual, adult, junior, and specific type of position of employment, to name a few. 


2. Enterprise Business Agreement (EBA/EA)


Under a company’s Enterprise Bargaining Agreement is a set of policies that have been agreed upon with the employer and employee (and their bargaining agreement committee). “The Fair Work Act 2009 establishes a set of clear rules and obligations about how this process is to occur, including rules about bargaining, the content of enterprise agreements, and how an agreement is made and approved.”


Some key elements of an EBA/EA are

  • The EBA can’t be lower than the minimum wage as set out by Fair Work.
  • Just because an EBA is specific to each company, that doesn’t mean it’s private information. Meaning, it’s on the public record and can be accessed here.
  • If an EBA (generally 3 years in length) is expired, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s inactive and could still be implemented to your regular pay.


Or if you don’t fall under an award, and Individual Flexibility Arrangement (or rather, a contract that is specific to your role). To see more on this subject, click here.

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Do Your Part

At the beginning of the new financial year, the Fair Work Commission reviews the national minimum wage and pay rates, also knowing as the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Any changes that are made begin on the first full pay period, effective from 1st July.

Once you’ve gathered all the knowledge surrounding your rights of pay, it’s also important to read and fully understand your work contract. Prior to signing anything, we recommend reading your workers contract diligently and don’t shy away from asking for clarification from your employer if anything is unclear.


If you’ve noticed that you’ve been paid incorrectly or detect a possible mistake after doing your research, you should politely raise your concern with your direct manager.


For your reference, the Fair Work Ombudsman also has resources in resolving workplace issues, including how to fix an underpayment. If you’re a working holiday maker (on a working holiday visa subclass 417 or 462), we have specific advice for you here surrounding your pay.


For Your Reference

Just in case you missed any of the above links, here is a list of the most important resources for your reference:

We know we just threw a bunch of information at you but here's the bottom line: You can’t be paid less than minimum wage or the award that you fall under. 

Bonus tip: You should have a contract to sign when you begin your hospitality position. If you don’t have one, it's completely in your right to request one to be drawn up!


Looking to work in the hospitality industry where your pay rate is guaranteed to be compliant, and paying you what you deserve? Apply below for your chance to be a part of the BENCHMARQUE workforce in events, restaurants, and nightlife. 

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

About the author Carlyn Shaw

Drawing on 12 years of hospitality experience and coming from a Communications background, I am passionate about all things hospitality.


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