The Expert Panel of the Fair Work Commission has conducted its review of the national minimum wage and of minimum wages in modern awards for the 2014-15 financial year. The Panel issued its decision and statement on 2 June 2015 and the increases set out below will come into effect today. The Panel received submissions from various parties, including the Australian Government and State governments, the Federal Opposition, collective bodies representing employers and employees and other organisations.[1]

Outcome

The national minimum wage will increase to $17.29 per hour or $656.90 per week. This is an increase of $16.00 per week to the weekly rate.  The modern award minimum wages will also be moderately increased by 2.5%.

Basis

In a Statement of its decision, the Expert Panel states that a number of considerations led it to award a lower increase than last year, namely the economic circumstances in Australia over the past twelve months, the lower growth of consumer prices and aggregate wages growth and subdued employment growth.[2] The Expert Panel went on to say that it found “no evidence of particular corporate stress”,[3] however the uncertain forecast of stronger non-mining investment provided a reason to exercise some caution in its decision.[4] In its full decision the Expert Panel provides a detailed analysis of the economic considerations it took into account, finding “the economy is now in a position where it must absorb the consequences of the slow growth of real net national disposable income, including the consequences for wages growth.”[5] However "the outlook for the Australian economy remains generally positive”.[6] For more details see the full decision of the Expert Panel byclicking here. For a summary of the decision, see the Expert Panel’s Statement, 2 June 2015 by clicking here.

New Fair Work Information Statement 

The Fair Work Ombudsman has published a new version of the Fair Work Information Statement. This is the statement that must be handed to all new employees. It is accessible on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Federal High Income Threshold

The high income threshold will increase from $133,000 to $136,700.  Employers who have given a guarantee to employees that they will earn the high income threshold need to review salaries if the employee is to remain a high income employee.  The threshold is also important as employees earning more than the threshold are not able to make an unfair dismissal claim unless an enterprise agreement applies to them or they are covered by a modern award.

State Wage Case 2015

The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission issued the State Wage Case on 11 June 2015. The following increases have effect from today. The minimum weekly rate of pay for adult employees employed under the State system (i.e. by employers who are not national system employers) is to increase by $14.00 to $679.90 per week.[7] The Commission also adjusted award wage rates by a percentage increase of 2.1%.[8]

For more details visit the State Wage Case Site by clicking here.

State Prescribed Amount for Claims

The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission has also adjusted the prescribed salary rate for unfair dismissal and denied contractual benefit claims to $153,900. Employees cannot make a claim of this type if their contract of employment provides for a salary greater than this amount and an industrial instrument does not apply to them.