Pay rise kicks in
Low-income workers will not be the only staff to benefit from a higher minimum wage, Careerone Editor Cara Jenkin reports.
THE pay packets of the state’s lowest-paid workers will be a little heavier from this week but the rest of the workforce also will receive a boost because of it.
From the first full pay period on or after this Friday, employees earning the minimum wage will receive at least an extra $19.40 a week, or 51 cents an hour, with the base weekly pay for a full-time adult worker set at $589.30.
Casual workers who are not paid under an award also receive a higher loading, increased from 21 per cent to 22 per cent, though the standard casual loading for staff paid under an award remains at 25 per cent.
Fair Work Australia, as the nation’s independent workplace umpire, ruled earlier this month for a 3.4 per cent pay increase for minimum wage workers.
It kickstarted the process for pay rises across the board, with a flow-on effect predicted for other workers.
University of Adelaide Professor of Law Andrew Stewart says any worker who is paid the minimum wage under their industry award can expect the pay rise from this Friday, not just those who now earn $569.90 a week.
Industry awards set out the minimum rates at different levels for particular industries and occupations. But Prof Stewart says for the first time in more than a decade, all of those workers will receive proportionately the same increase in salary because Fair Work Australia awarded a percentage pay increase as well as the flat dollar increase in minimum pay.
This means many low-paid workers will receive more than the $19.40 a week, giving them a better deal this year compared with previous years, when flat dollar rises were granted.
The actual rise they receive depends on their current salary.
‘‘That certainly does not mean that everyone gets a wage rise,’’ Professor Stewart says. ‘‘Most people work under some sort of agreement, that involves them being paid on some kind of minimum rate, such as collective agreements of one sort or another.
‘‘These collective agreements are required to offer better conditions than the relevant award, overall.’’
In time, the pay rise will flow on to workers on an agreement, Prof Stewart says.
He says workers paid more than the absolute award minimum have a wage that effectively is linked to the award and will see an increase when their agreement comes up to renewal.
‘‘It has an immediate effect and it has an indirect affect,’’ he says.
‘‘It might be up for renewal this year to three years away but the rates of pay will be affected by award rates. They can’t be less – they must be more.
‘‘There is a kind of knock-on effect, in the sense that the floor is being raised, for rates of pay in agreements.’’
About 15 per cent of the workforce, or 1.3 million workers, receive the minimum wage and will get the immediate pay rise from July 1.
Most work in community services, retail and hospitality and often are employed by small businesses.
About 70 per cent of the workforce is paid a rate set out by an industry award. The remainder of the work- force is paid under individual contract agreements, which have been negotiated or offered by the employer. These are usually offered to professionals or managers who are paid well above the national minimum wage.
Prof Stewart says the number of workers on the base rate of their award means about one in four Australian employees will see an immediate wage rise on July 1.
‘‘Over a longer period of time, there may be other workers that could benefit from this,’’ he says.
John O’Connor Stables part-time stablehand Lexy Monserrat, 26, loves horses and working in the racing industry.
She is paid under the industry award and also works as a part-time model to supplement her income.
‘‘At the moment, I am combining both jobs to help pay for my lifestyle while I figure out my future career,’’ she says.
‘‘I would welcome the idea of any increase for workers in the lower wage bracket, particularly in my situation where I am trying to combine my passion for racing with the need to earn a living.’’
Part-time stablehand Lexy Monserrat is paid under an industry award and welcomed the pay rise.