Fair Work Australia (FWA) has released its 2012 Annual Wage Review decision and wage increases will take effect from the first pay period starting on or after 1 July 2012.
The decision increases minimum weekly wages by 2.9% and this will apply to minimum wages for juniors, trainees and apprentices, employees with a disability and to piece rates. The new national minimum wage will be $606.40 per week or $15.96 per hour – the difference for employers will mean paying an additional $17.10 per employee, per week. Following the announcement the Fair Work ombudsman (FWO) warned all employers to check their payroll obligations to make sure they are meeting their responsibilities. FWO also reminded employers of the significant penalties for deliberate underpayment of wages and that under no circumstances can employers and employees agree to a rate of pay which is less than the applicable minimum wage.
FWO is in the process of updating all relevant web content, pay tools, pay and conditions guides and fact sheets and these will be made available by 1 July 2012.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) had submitted that the increase be no more than $9.40, saying employers were not in a position to pay an extra $2.8bn per year required by the submissions from trade unions. The ACTU pushed for low-wage workers to be given a $26-a-week pay increase, and it appears FWA has adjusted the pay increase at half way.
The decision has already been met with outrage from some employer groups. The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) has said the increase is another blow against a growing list of new expenses. “The increase comes at the same time as businesses are already facing higher operating costs due to the introduction of the carbon tax, the requirement to fund a three percentage point increase in superannuation contributions and the loss of the company tax cut previously promised by the Federal Government,” Richard Clancy from VECCI said. “This announcement marks another significant increase in a three year run now and will no doubt prove, once again, to have real significance for employers,” he added.
The employer group also voiced their disappointment that the FWA wage panel did not defer whole or part of the increase to struggling sectors of the economy such as retail, tourism, restaurants and catering, hospitality, manufacturing and housing construction.