Variation to the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 

As part of the 4-yearly review of modern awards, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has recently made a number of further significant variations to many awards including the Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2020 (HPSS Award). 

These variations include the confirmation of casual overtime and changes to the list of common health professionals listed within the HPSS Award.  

Please note that the changes referred to above are in addition to the annual increase to award minimum rates on 1 July 2020.

1. Changes to Casual Overtime

Historically, under the HPSS, overtime for casual employees was calculated in substitution of the casual loading. However, a decision at the FWC in November this year clarified the application of overtime rates for casual employees across a large number of awards. 

From the first full pay period on or after 20 November 2020 overtime for casual employees is calculated according to the compounding method. That is, overtime is now calculated on the employee’s hourly rate of pay, inclusive of casual loading. This has resulted in an overall increase in overtime rates for casual employees:

  • Overtime for the first two hours (time and a half) will increase from 150% to 187.5% of the base rate of pay inclusive of casual loading; 
  • Overtime after two hours (double time) will increase from 200% to 250% of the base rate of pay inclusive of casual loading; and
  • Overtime worked on a Public Holiday (double time and a half) will increase from 250% to 312.5% of the base rate of pay inclusive of casual loading.

It very important to note that the HPSS Award prescribed a minimum rate of pay which is to be afforded to casual employees. Where a casual employee’s contracted rate of pay already exceeds the HPSS overtime rate, then no overtime penalty is payable unless specifically agreed.

Detailed Pay Guides are available through the HR Hub .

Given the recent amendments to casual overtime, it is important that practices understand when and how overtime rates will be payable. Overtime penalties will apply in the following circumstances:

  • Firstly, and most importantly overtime penalty rates only apply to employees who are covered by the HPSS Award. Award free employees have no entitlement to overtime penalties;
  • Any work performed in excess of 10 hours per shift;
  • Any work performed in excess of 38 hours per week or 76 hours in a fortnight (depending on the roster structure adopted); and 
  • If, on the instruction of the employer, an employee does not receive a minimum break of 10 consecutive hours off duty between shifts when they work overtime. In this situation a casual employee must be paid at a rate of 250% of the minimum hourly rate applicable to their classification and pay point until they are released from duty.

This update to casual wages also serves as a timely reminder that practices should review their roster structures to minimise the circumstances and frequency in which overtime penalties might be payable, as well as to ensure that rates of pay comply with the HPSS Award.  


2. Changes to the list of Common Health Professionals

Earlier in December, the FWC announced that it had finalised its review into the list of common health professionals covered by the HPSS. Practices will now need to be aware that the following occupations will be included in Schedule B - List of Common Health Professionals: 

  • Dental Hygienist;
  • Dental Prosthetist; and
  • Oral Health Therapist.

These variations will come into effect on 1 July 2021 and will apply to individual employees from the start of the employee’s first full pay period on or after 1 July 2021.

Although it is common practice that the above occupations are generally paid in excess of the HPSS Award, the effect of having these occupations now fall under the coverage of the HPSS Award means that practices must be aware of award entitlements and rostering practices which may give rise to the obligation to pay additional penalties/entitlements.  

In addition, now that such occupations attract other award monetary entitlements such as weekend penalty rates and annual leave loading, practices must ensure that an employee’s salary adequately compensates for all such entitlements. 

We recommend that these remuneration arrangements should be reviewed at least annually to ensure compliance with the award minimum wage increases that typically occur on 1 July. In 2020, the FWC annual wage review decision applied a 1.75% increase to the award minimum rates however another announcement will be made this year on a rate increase. 

As always, a bespoke contract of employment is highly recommended and the changes to the HPSS Award presents an excellent opportunity for employees in those professions listed above to be reviewed to ensure that the rostering and salary structures are compliant, but also that a suitable contract of employment is in place to ensure that the remuneration paid is compliant with the HPSS Award or clearly reflective as incorporating all such entitlements. 


For further information or assistance in relation to the updated Health Professional and Support Services Award 2020, please do not hesitate to contact the ADA HR Advisory Service on 1300 232 462.