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Childcare Wages In Australia

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As an Educator in Australia, your pay rate falls under the Children’s Services Award 2010. This award states the minimum amount that an employer can pay you based on your qualification and your position while working in an early learning centre. This article will provide you with information on minimum wages, details of classification structure higher duties and allowances. The minimum wage table has been updated to reflect the 5.75% increase that will be effective from 01 July 2023. 

Types of Employment

When working in a childcare setting you will be either a full-time, part-time or casual employee. As per the Children’s Services Award 2010, an employee works:

  • Full-time – works an average of 38 hours per week.
  • Part-time – works less than 38 hours per week, has predictable hours of work and receives the equivalent conditions to those working full time.

When working part-time, a letter of agreement should be written by your employer specifying the hours you will be working each day, the days of the week required as well as the start and finishing times for the day’s work.

Casual - works for temporary and relief purposes, with a minimum of 2 hours per day.

If working as a casual employee, you must be paid the hourly rate stated for a full-time employee as per classification and minimum wage plus a casual loading.

As an employee, regarding your wages, you will be classified as a “level” which determines what your minimum wage is. You can find your level by looking at your payslip. It usually says “CSE Level ...”. Each level is different within the classification structure and is basically used to determine what your position is within the centre as well as provide you with the details on what your weekly and hourly wages are. These are only the minimum amount that an employer is expected to pay. Some may be getting paid more than it states, however, you should not be getting paid less.

Progression to the Next Level of Classification

While working at a specific level as per the classification structure you are able to progress to an upper level depending on a variety of factors such as change of position, qualification gained and the following:

  • A Level 1 employee will progress to the next level after a period of one year or earlier if the employer considers the employee capable of performing the work at the next level or if the employee actually performs work at the next level.
  • A Level 3 employee at this level who has completed a Diploma in Children’s Services or equivalent, and who demonstrates the application of skills and knowledge acquired beyond the competencies required for a Certificate III in the ongoing performance of their work, must be paid no less than the rate prescribed for Level 3.4.
  • Competency at the existing level.
  • 12 months experience at that level (or in the case of employees employed for 19 hours or less per week, 24 months) and in-service training as required; and
  • Has demonstrated the ability to acquire the skills necessary for advancement to the next pay point.

Minimum Wages for Full-Time and Casual Employees

Now that you can verify which level you are at according to the classification structure, you can determine your minimum wage. The Children's Services Award, only shows what the minimum wages are. So, all this tells you is your employer can’t pay you below the minimum wage that it states.

Your wages are determined by a number of different factors. Such as your qualification, age, experience, the state you're living in, the area of the centre, your employer, your position etc. All these factors are taken into consideration when determining your pay.

Also, each year of working with the same employer, your wages do increase, on commencement and for two years after that. So, if you stay with the same employer for a longer period of time, you’re entitled to a pay rise.

For casual employees, your hourly rate is the full-time hourly pay rate plus additional loading.

According to your classification structure and employment type, your minimum wages are (award rate from 01/07/2023):

Full-Time Employees



*Reference to a year or years of service is to service in the industry

**Former Western Australian ‘E’ worker classification

***An Assistant Director who holds an Advanced Diploma (AQF 6/3 year qualified) must be paid no less than Level 5.

Casual Employment

  • A casual employee is an employee engaged as such and must be paid the hourly rate payable for a full-time employee for the relevant classification plus a casual loading of 25%.
  • A casual employee is one engaged for temporary and relief purposes.
  • A casual employee will be paid a minimum of two hours pay for each engagement.
  • A casual employee may, by mutual agreement, be paid weekly or at the termination of each engagement.

Levels For Childcare Wages

All Educators fall under a classification structure, this determines your minimum wage. Each “level” gives a definition of what is expected of the employee, the qualifications required and the duties the employee should perform in order to be paid at that particular level.

The following lists the classification of each level so you can determine your correct wage: Levels For Childcare Wages

Higher Duties

There may be times, when you may be asked to perform higher duties. This basically means performing duties that are not within your job description or those stated within the level you fall under in the classification structure, the duties of an employee will be determined by reference to this award and the employee’s job description.

If you’re engaged in higher duties for two or more consecutive hours you will be paid the time you spent at a higher rate, provided that:

  • the greater part of the time so worked is spent in performing duties carrying the higher rate;
  • if you’re engaged as a Children’s Services Employee Level 5 (Assistant Director) who is required to undertake the duties of a Director by reason of the Director’s absence will not be entitled to payment under this clause unless the Director’s absence exceeds two complete consecutive working days;
  • if you’re engaged as a Children’s Services Employee Level 3 who is required to undertake duties of the Director by reason of the Director’s non-attendance outside of core hours will not be entitled to payment under this clause;
  • where you are appointed to act as the Director of a Centre or a Supervising Officer pursuant to the relevant childcare regulations, they will be paid for the entire period at the rate applicable for a Director or Supervising Officer; or
  • if you are required to undertake the duties of another employee by reason of the latter employee’s absence for the purpose of attending (with pay) an approved training course (including in-service training) will not be entitled to payment under this clause.


Some centres give allowances to their employees which will further increase their pay rate. These allowances may include laundry (if they supply you with a uniform), travel, split shift, meals, vehicle and more. These allowances may not be much; however, it does count towards your wages. So, every little bit does increase your overall payment amount. Not all centres will have allowances in place, so it really depends on where you are working. 

Educational Leader Allowance

(a) An educational leader’s allowance of $4253.32 per annum will be paid to an employee who is required to discharge the responsibilities of the educational leader under Regulation 118 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011.

(b) Where an employee is required to act as an educational leader for less than 5 days per week, the annual allowance prescribed by clause 15.8(a) will be payable on a pro-rata basis calculated by reference to the number of days per week the employee is required to act as an educational leader.

NOTE: The allowance prescribed in clause 15.8(a) is the same amount as the educational leader allowance prescribed by clause 19.4 of the Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2020 and will be adjusted each year to reflect the amount set in the Educational Services (Teachers) Award 2020.

Broken Shift Allowance

Where an employee works two separate shifts in a day, they will be paid an allowance of 1.91% of the standard rate per day for each day on which a broken shift is worked.

Clothing and Equipment Allowance

(a) Where the employer requires an employee to wear any special clothing or articles of clothing the employer must reimburse the employee for the cost of purchasing such clothing. The provisions of this clause do not apply where the employer pays for the clothing required to be worn by the employee.

(b) Where an employee is required to launder any clothing will be paid an allowance of $9.49 per week or $1.90 per day, or where the uniform does not require ironing, $5.98 per week or $1.20 per day.

(c) Where an employee is required to wear protective clothing or equipment such as goggles, aprons or gloves, the employer will either supply such clothing or equipment or reimburse the employee for the cost of their purchase.

Excess Fares Allowance

Where an employee is directed to work away from their normal place of work on any day the employee will be paid an allowance of $16.28 per day to compensate for excess fares. This provision does not apply if the employer provides or offers to provide suitable transport free of charge to the employee.

First Aid Allowance

(a) Where an employee classified below Level 3 is required by the employer to administer first aid to children within the employee’s care and the employee holds a current recognised first aid qualification such as a certificate from the St John Ambulance, the Australian Red Cross or a similar body they will be paid an allowance of 1.13% of the standard rate per day. Where the employee is employed in out-of-school hours care, the allowance will be 0.15% of the standard rate per hour.

(b) Provided that a first aid officer need not be appointed where a qualified nurse is on the premises at all times.

(c) Where an employee is required by an employer to act as a first aid officer and they do not have current qualifications, the employer must pay the costs of any required training.

Meal allowance

An employee required to work overtime for more than two hours without being notified on the previous day or earlier that they will be so required to work will either be supplied with a meal by the employer or paid an allowance of $14.16. No meal allowance is payable where an employee could reasonably return home for a meal within the period allowed.

Qualifications Allowance

A Director or Assistant Director who holds a Graduate Certificate in Childcare Management or equivalent will be paid an all-purpose allowance, calculated at 5% of the weekly rate for an Assistant Director (Children’s Services Employee Level 5.4).

Use of Vehicle Allowance

Where an employer requests an employee to use their own motor vehicle in the performance of their duties the employee will be paid an allowance of $0.92 per kilometre in the case of a motor car or $0.31 per kilometre in the case of a motorcycle.

The Children Services Award 2010 is a detailed document that provides a variety of information covering a variety of topics including wages. It’s pretty complex to understand and unless you know what you’re looking for it can get a little confusing. I hope that the explanations given in this article provide you with enough details for you to determine your classification structure and discover what your minimum wages are.

Please remember that the above wages are to be used as a general guideline only and are subject to change. The above rates are correct as of 01 July 2023. 

Further Reading

How To Negotiate Your Wages - The following article lists strategies on how to talk to your employer about pay, including knowing your worth, being prepared, using open-ended questions and more. 

Levels For Childcare Wages In Australia Posters - Each Poster gives a definition of the level, qualifications required and the duties an Educator should perform in order to be paid at that particular level. This will help Educators to understand their correct level and their correct pay at that specific level. These Posters should be displayed in the Staff Room or added to the Orientation Pack for Educators so they understand their classification level. 

Created On January 3, 2024 Last modified on Saturday, January 6, 2024
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