Employers should note the following new rates and thresholds that apply from 1 July 2014.

1.  National minimum wage

From 1 July 2014, the national minimum wage will be $640.90 per week or $16.87 per hour based on a 38 hour week. This constitutes an increase of $18.70 per week to the current national minimum weekly rate or 50 cents per hour to the hourly rate.

2.  Casual loading for award/agreement free employees

From 1 July 2014, the casual loading for award/agreement free employees will be 25%. This is an increase of 1% from the current casual loading.

3.  Minimum award wage rates

Minimum wage rates in modern awards will increase from 1 July 2014. 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

From 1 July 2014, employers must contribute 9.5% of an employee’s ordinary time earnings to a complying superannuation fund. The Federal Government announced in the most recent budget that the superannuation contribution rate will remain at this level until 30 June 2018. It is not yet known whether this change will pass through the Senate.  The maximum superannuation contributions base will be $49,430 per quarter. This means that employers must contribute 9.5% of ordinary time earnings to $49,430 per quarter. Employers are not required to make contributions above this threshold.

5.  High income threshold

The high income threshold applying to commence unfair dismissal applications will increase to $133,000 per annum from 1 July 2014. This means that on and from 1 July 2014: 

  • Employees cannot file an unfair dismissal application if their earnings exceed $133,000 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 $66,500. 

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.