Employers should note the following new rates and thresholds that apply from 1 July 2015.

1.    National minimum wage

From 1 July 2015, the national minimum wage will be $656.90 per week or $17.29 per hour based on a 38 hour week. This constitutes an increase of $16 per week to the current national minimum weekly rate or 42 cents per hour to the hourly rate.

2.    Casual loading for award/agreement free employees

The casual loading for award/agreement free employees will remain at 25%.

3.    Minimum award wage rates

Minimum wage rates in modern awards will increase from 1 July 2015.  Employers should review the applicable awards to ensure ongoing compliance.  For employers paying above award wages, an increase to award wages can generally be absorbed into the existing above award payment, provided that the relevant award permits this approach and that minimum award conditions are met.  

4.    Superannuation contributions

Employers must continue to contribute 9.5% of an employee’s ordinary time earnings to a complying superannuation fund.  The maximum superannuation contributions base will be $50,810 per quarter. This means that employers must contribute 9.5% of ordinary time earnings to $50,810 per quarter.  Employers are not required to make contributions above this threshold unless they have agreed to do so on a contractual basis.

5.    High income threshold

The high income threshold applying to commence unfair dismissal applications will increase to $136,700 per annum from 1 July 2015. This means that on and from 1 July 2015:

  • Employees cannot file an unfair dismissal application if their earnings exceed $136,700 and they are not covered by an award or other agreement; and
  • The maximum compensation that can be awarded to an employee in unfair dismissal proceedings will be $68,350.

Employers should note that when calculating earnings for the purpose of the high income threshold, the following will be included:

  • wages;
  • any amounts applied or dealt with on the employee’s behalf (for example salary sacrifice amounts); and
  • the agreed monetary value of any non-cash benefit (for example, use of a company car, laptop or mobile phone).

The following will not be included as part of an employee’s earnings:

  • payments that cannot be determined in advance (for example commissions, incentive based payments and bonuses and overtime unless the overtime is guaranteed);
  • reimbursements for business expenses; and
  • superannuation guarantee contributions.

6.    Fair Work Information Statement

Note that a new version of the Fair Work Information Statement including reference to the new high income threshold will be available shortly.  Copies can be obtained from the Fair Work Ombudsman website.