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 2015 – 2016 financial year. The Panel issued its decision and statement on 31 May 2016 and the increases set out below will come into effect from 1 July 2016. This decision directly affects over 1.86 million employees in Australia who are award reliant.
In this review, a number of parties took the opportunity to lodge one or more written submissions and participated in consultations on 10 and 11 May 2016.
The national minimum wage will increase by 2.4 percent to $672.70 per week ($17.70 per hour). This is an increase of $15.80 per week (41 cents an hour). The modern award minimum wages will also be moderately increased by 2.4 percent, with weekly wages to be rounded to the nearest 10 cents.
In a statement of its decision, the Expert Panel states that a number of considerations led it to award an increase close to that of last year (2.5 percent). The Panel stated that “the general economic climate is robust, with some continued improvement in productivity and historically low levels of inflation and wages growth.”
The Panel observed that the economy has grown close to trend, with real GDP rising by 3.0 percent over the year to the December quarter 2015, compared to 2.2 percent over the year to the December quarter 2014. However, while stronger labour market conditions and the growth of company gross operating profits were also evident, mining industry profits continued to fall over the period.
The Expert Panel went on to say that it found that the prevailing economic circumstances “provide an opportunity to improve the relative living standards of the low paid and to enable them to better meet their needs” and, that the decision will mean modest improvement in the real wages for those employees who are reliant on the national minimum wage and modern award minimum wages.
That being said, the Panel believes the outlook for the Australian economy remains generally positive.