The Fair Work Act 2009 requires the Expert Panel for annual wage reviews, part of the Fair Work Commission, to undertake a review of the national minimum wage and the minimum wages that apply within modern awards each financial year. Modern awards are industry or occupational minimum employment standards, which apply in addition to the National Employment Standards (NES).
This review takes into account relative living standards and the needs of the low paid, promoting social inclusion through increased workforce participation, the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value, and various economic considerations. When analysing modern awards, the Panel is also required to explore the need to encourage collective bargaining.
The Panel’s decision for its 2018-2019 Annual Wage Review was published on 30 May 2019, recommending an increase of 3% to the national minimum wage; this equates to a new rate of $740.30 (£406.37) a week or $19.49 (£10.70) an hour. This is an increase of $21.60 (£11.86) a week compared to the 2017-2018 rate.
The modern award minimum wages are also to be increased by 3%, with weekly wages rounded up to the nearest 10 cents. In the C10 tradesperson category, for example, this translates to an increase of $25.10 (£13.78) a week. Pay rates within the National Training Wage schedule will also rise by 3%.
Casual loading, the additional hourly wage paid to casual workers within the modern awards system, will stay at 25%, while casual loading in the Business Equipment Award 2010 will increase to 24%.
These pay increases are proportionally lower for 2018-2019 compared to last year. This is due to changes in the economic environment, such as the recent fall in gross domestic product (GDP) growth and the drop in inflation, and tax-transfer changes that have become effective in the current review period.