What is the minimum wage in an Australian Cafe?

The minimum legal pay for an "Introductory Level" casual cafe employee, more than 19 years old, in Australia is, in 2019:

It is against the law to keep you at this "Introductory Level" for more than 3 months. After three months you become a "Level 1" employee and paid at least $25.08 (Mon-Fri) and $30.09 (Weekends).

These rates apply between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020. Rates are revised every year. Revised rates come into effect on the 1st of July each year.

You can download the complete schedule of rates from Fair Work Australia

Are you working in a cafe or restaurant for less than the award?

Please contact me with your story. Anonymous statistics, and identifiable examples, are critical to prove to people who are not in the industry that underpayment is actually happening.
Email me at, or call John on 0403 998 333

Do I qualify for the minimum wage?

What work do I do for the minimum wage?

An Introductory and Level 1 Food and Beverage Attendant must perform these tasks:

A Level 2 Food and Beverage Attendant does all the Level 1 duties and also: A Level 3 Food and Beverage Attendant does all the Level 2 duties and also:

If you 'cover' additional duties for more than two hours, you are entitled the rate of pay of the person you covered. If you cover for someone below your normal level, you are still entitled to your normal pay rate.

You can learn more about the duties of each level and pay rate in Schedule B—Classification Structure and Definitions of award MA000119. There are duties listed for Kitchen Staff, Clerical staff, Storemen and women, Security personnel, and Maintenance staff, and all of their levels.

But I will lose my job if I ask for the minimum wage!

Although it is illegal, the reality may be when you discuss the minimum wage with your boss they may decide they don't need you anymore.
There is a way to keep your job and get the minimum wage:

  1. Don't say anything; keep working your job and receiving less than the mimimum wage
  2. Write down the times and dates of every shift you work
  3. Write down
  4. When your job ends, present all this written data to the employer and ask for the difference between your actual pay and the mimimum wage as a lump sum
  5. When the employer refuses to correctly pay you, request help from the Fair Work Ombudsman

We can help you submit your request to the Fair Work Ombudsman. Contact me. We are free, voluntary, and we have no intent to profit from you. It may take some time (three months), but we have always had success getting paid your minimum entitlements. You can still receive your payment even if you have left the country.

I worked a "trial" shift for free when I first started.

All time at work is payable, including time evaluating your ability to do a task. Unpaid hours, "Trial", "Training", "Testing" or whatever it is called is illegal.
For example:

I came to work, but my shift was canceled because it was quiet.

The minimum shift length is two hours. You must be paid for a minimum of two hours whenever you show up to a scheduled shift.

My employer deducted some money from my pay?

Your employer must not financially penalise you for mistakes that you make during the normal course of your work. For example:

Am I a "casual", "part-time", or "full-time" employee?

If do you not receive all of these entitlements you are a casual employee. Do you:

If any of these do not apply then you are a casual employee.

Casual employees are paid 25% more than part/full time employees because casual employees do not get these, and other, entitlements.

If you do get sick pay, and holiday pay, and have an agreed minimum number of hours per week, and a relatively predictable schedule, and get a weeks notice before termination, and more, then you are paid 25% less than the casual employees because of these benefits.

The minimum rate for part-time and full-time employees (monday to friday) is $18.93
You can download the complete schedule of rates from Fair Work Australia

You cannot alternate between casual and part-time employment on a monthly or weekly basis; you are one, or the other. After 12 months as a casual employee you are entitled to request a full, or part-time position, and that request cannot be unreasonably refused. See Right to request casual conversion

The responses in Manly NSW 2095

I've been passing out these business cards at the local cafes which have the casual, over 20yrs, rates listed. I'm still working out what the approach should be, but clearly it needs some work because I'm getting a lot of 'inconclusive' data.

Belgrave Cartel (Manly Wharf outlet) Monday 18 Feb 2019 ~11am Girl said she is part-time and confirmed is paid holidays and is paid to the award. "They're good guys. They look after us". Tick
Silo (Sydney Road) Monday 18 Feb ~11am Guy reacted strongly with surprise; he's not getting that. But I clarified that as he was only 19, so he is paid a little less than on the card. I didn't know what exactly so things were... Close. Other enquiries have given me the impression the longer term staff are either getting the award, or more loyal to the business than to a regular stranger.
Roma (Whistler/Corso) Monday 18 Feb ~11am Girl read it and nodded and didn't comment. I asked "any questions" and she just dismissed me and walked away. Inconclusive.
Gloria Jeans (Whistler) Monday 18 Feb ~11am Two guys read it and didn't say anything at all. Gave me dead-pan faces I couldn't read. Inconclusive.
Jellyfish (North Steyne) Saturday 18 Feb ~12noon This was just an experiement to see how a manager would react. Asked for the manager and showed the card and asked if he'd mind if I hand them out to the staff. He said 'no problem'. But in hindsight, what else could he say? I didn't bother to pass them out. Tick. The week before, I didn't have the cards and one staff member, when asked her rates, quoted "20 on weekdays, 25 on saturday, 30 on sunday"; which is not right since Saturdays and Sundays are the same pay, Asking on other occasions also got answers that were not wildly exploitative.
The Bower Cafe (Marine Pde) Sunday 17 Feb ~12noon Staff just took them, read them, and I couldn't really read their reaction and I didn't press as I was with people. Inconclusive.

Who are you, and why do you care?

Many years ago, I had a 'working from home' computer job, but found it a bit lonely so I thought I could get some 'people-time' by working in a coffee shop in the morning, then do my 'real job' in the afternoon. I also consider that one day when I'm old, I'd work in a local cafe or restaurant to stay busy. But now I know why there are no oldies doing that...

I applied to the local "Gloria Jeans" coffee shop and didn't think anything of it when the manager told me my pay and that I could start right away. When I received my first cheque I noticed my "age" was recorded as "17 years old". I rang to correct the error. With some exasperation they told me that I'd been informed of the rate of pay at the interview, and that I'd agreed to the pay! I had naively assumed that they would not offer me a pay rate below the legal minimum. I asked for a legal wage and was told that, in that case, they "had no shifts for me". I took a complaint to the Ombudsman and, at length, received my legal entitlement for the week worked.

Unfortuately I was unable to address the underpayment of my co-workers because the law requires every individual to raise their own complaint. They were too afraid of losing their job, and/or their visa, and/or even worried about getting kicked out of the country if they didn't accept it.

Since that time I've often asked my local waiter or cafe attendant what rate they're getting paid. Rarely has any worker been able to tell me the correct legal minimum rate. Often they have revealed that they are receiving less than the minimum rate. I fear this is widespread and has, as we have seen in the media, become a normal and conscious violation of small and large businesses alike.

If it's time to repeal the minimum wage then let's revisit that debate, but until then, let's keep it legal!

My intention is to publicise the minimum wage and to encourage employers to pay it. The purpose of the minimum wage is to protect everyone from the poverty we experienced in this country less than a century ago, and we continue to see elsewhere today. If you are a business owner and you are seeking to reduce your wages bill by paying less than the minimum wage then you are asking your employees to sacrifice their already very base standard of living to prop up your business. That is neither "fair dinkum" or legal.