$640.90 a week, or $16.87 an hour, will be the new minimum wage from 1 July 2014, the Fair Work Commission has ruled.  

In coming to this decision, the Commission took into account "the deterioration in the relative living standards of award-reliant workers, the needs of the low paid, the recent widespread improvement in labour productivity growth, the historically low levels of real unit labour costs and the absence in aggregate of cost pressures". The Fair Work Commission considered the increase to be equitable in circumstances where most other employees' wages had increased substantially while there had been almost no growth in the real value of award rates. Last year's review increased award rates by 2.6% to $15.80 per hour.  

Employers should be aware that it is possible to apply for a differential minimum wage to be applied to some award employees. However, the review noted that the submissions from industry groups to that effect did not demonstrate exceptional circumstances justifying those orders.

Andrew Berriman