The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has awarded a 1.75 per cent rise to the minimum adult wage but due to the varied impacts of COVID-19 , it is staggering the start date with the print and manufacturing sector having until November 1 2020 to honour the rise.
Under the increase, which was announced last Friday, the minimum wage will rise $13 a week to $753.80 a week, or $19.84 an hour.
The decision comes after leading industrial groups, Ai Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, submitted that no minimum wage rise should be awarded given the impacts of the pandemic on the economy and business.
Conversely, the Australian Workers Union and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference sought a four per cent rise across the board arguing that with inflation and rising costs of living the minimum wage was risking putting many workers below the poverty line.
In the end the Fair Work Commission ruled on the 1.75 per cent rise but staggered the date for which it should be applied to workers depending on how hard hit the particularly industry had been by COVID-19.
The printing sector and the modern awards that are largely applicable to it – Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing Award 2010, the Book Industry Award 2020 and the Transport Award – were given extra time with the increase minimum wage payments due to start on November 1.
Sectors less adversely effected by the coronavirus must start the increased wage payments as of July 1, while other groups more severely impacted have until February 1 2021.
In making its ruling, the FWC said the current economic environment was considered but said the pay rises would help maintain real wage value for those on the minimum wage.
“We have decided to award a substantially lower increase this year than that awarded last
year due to the marked change in the economic environment and the tax-transfer system
and other changes which have taken effect in the current Review period which have
benefitted low-paid households. The increases we have awarded are likely to maintain
the real value of the wages of NMW (national minimum wage) and award-reliant employees,” the FWC said.
The Real Media Collective said the decision supports the position outlined by the Collective in its submission to FWC.
Charles Watson, the Real Media Collective’s general manager IR, policy and governance, said employers currently paying the minimum award wage will have to use this time now to plan and budget for when the increased wage payment will be due on November 1.
“For our industry, there is a bit of time to look at this and budget for it,” Watson told Sprinter.
“In all the years I have been doing this I haven’t seen this sort of staggered approach before. It usually takes effect from the pay period starting on or after the 1st of July, but this year they have done something different to take into account that everyone is suffering at the moment.”
“We knew going into this it was never going to be nothing but how they have staggered the start it is not a bad approach.”
But Watson said employers that are paying above award rates to their staff will not be effected.
“It will apply for a lot but it depends on whether those employees are paid minimum award rates so if you pay more than the minimum award rate you can absorb this increase into that and you won’t notice a change,” Watson said.
“It depends whether you are on the salary or on the award minimum.
“It’s only those companies that pay bang on the minimum award rates that are going to have to pay the increased wage.”
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at [email protected]
Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter