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.

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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.’’

Pic­ture: Chris Man­gan

Part-time sta­ble­hand Lexy Mon­ser­rat is paid un­der an in­dus­try award and wel­comed the pay rise.

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