Australia’s national minimum wage has been increased by 1.75 per cent to $19.84 an hour, or the equivalent of $753.80 a week for a full-time worker.
This is up from $740.80 a week or $19.49 an hour, the rate it has been since 1 July last year.
The Fair Work Commission announced the decision Friday, which directly affects 2.2 million employees who rely on minimum wages.
“The shock to the labour market has been unprecedented. The unemployment rate has increased; the number of hours worked has fallen; and there has been a substantial increase in underemployment.”
The number of low-wage households experiencing financial stress had risen, according to the spokesperson, and a rise in minimum wages would help these employees.
But no increase at all would have been a wage cut.
“The uncertainty surrounding the pathway out of recession have led us to adopt a cautious approach to both the quantum and the timing of an adjustment to minimum wages,” he said.
Last year’s increase was 3 per cent.
“The majority have decided to award a substantially lower increase this year due to the marked changes in the economic environment, and the recent tax transfer and other changes which have benefited low-paid households.”
Modern award minimum wages will also be increased by 1.75 per cent, he said.
However, the timing of the implementation of the new minimum wage will be a little bit different this year because of Covid-19.
Depending on which sector you work in, the new wage will take effect from 1 July 2020, 1 November 2020, or 1 February 2021.
Business groups push for no minimum wage
Not all groups are supportive of raising the minimum wage: state governments, industry groups, unions, employers and individuals who made submissions to the FWC about the minimum wage were “sharply polarised” on how it should move.
Groups such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, AI Group said there should be no increase to minimum wages, the spokesperson said.
A survey by the Master Grocers Association found that independent retailers did not want to see a pay rise – and this was before the bushfire crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.
The Housing Industry Association asked for any minimum wage hike to be deferred or for a “conservative” increase.