Each year, the Minimum Wage Panel of Fair Work Australia determines the amount of the increase in the national minimum wage and in Modern Award wage rates through an Annual Wage Review.
The Minimum Wage Panel of Fair Work Australia is headed by the President of Fair Work Australia and must have at least 3 separately appointed panel members who are specialists in the field. Although it has no formal hearings, the Panel must accept submissions from any person or body. Submissions are commonly received from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, key employer associations such as the Australian Industry Group (AIG), the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Federal Government.
The debate between employer associations and the ACTU regarding the increases to minimum wages has intensified over recent weeks, with the ACTU calling for an increase of $26 per week to the national minimum wage, in contrast to the Australian Industry Group's recommendation of an increase of $14 per week. The current national minimum wage is $589.30 per week (or $15.51 per hour).
Last year, the Panel awarded a 3.4% increase to both Modern Award minimum wages and the national minimum wage. This year, the Panel is expected to issue a determination in June, with any increase awarded to take effect from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2012.