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Australia - Minimum Wages - 2011


LAST UPDATE

7 March 2011

SOURCES


Name of Act

Fair Work Act 2009, No. 28 of 2009 incorporating amendments up to Act No. 51 of 2010
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Name of Act

Crimes Act 1914, incorporating amendments up to Act No. 127 of 2010

Other source used

Annual Wage Review 2009-2010 [2010] FWAFB 4000

Other source used

Fair Work (State Declarations - employers not to be national system employers) Endorsements 2009 and 2010

LEGAL DEFINITIONS


Employee/worker

For the purposes of the national minimum wage, an employee includes a person employed:
(a) by a constitutional corporation;
(b) in Victoria, the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory by any employer;
(c) in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia or Tasmania by any employer other than the relevant State government or prescribed authority;
(d) by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority; or
(e) in connection with interstate or overseas trade or commerce as a waterside employee, maritime employee or flight crew officer.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§13, 14, 30C, 30D, 283

Employer

For the purposes of the national minimum wage, employer includes:
(a) a constitutional corporation;
(b) any employing entity in Victoria, the Northern Territory or the Australian Capital Territory;
(c) any employing entity in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia or Tasmania, other than the relevant State government or prescribed employer;
(d) the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority; or
(e) an entity which usually employs a waterside employee, maritime employee or flight crew officer in connection with interstate or overseas trade or commerce.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§14, 30D, 283

Minimum wage

There are three principle categories of minimum wage rates:
(a) modern award minimum wages, which are industry-specific;
(b) the national minimum wage, which is of general application and underpins all industry and enterprise-specific rates; and
(c) the special national minimum wage, which applies to specified categories of vulnerable workers, including junior employees, trainees and employees with a disability.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§135(2), 206, 285, 294

MINIMUM WAGE FIXING


Procedure

Fair Work Australia (FWA) sets and varies minimum wages for national system employees. Minimum wage-setting is determined by a Minimum Wage Panel headed by the President of Fair Work Australia and comprising six other Minimum Wage Panel members.

FWA must conduct and complete an annual wage review in each financial year. In an annual wage review, FWA:
(a) must review modern award minimum wages and the national minimum wage order; and
(b) may make one or more determinations varying modern awards to set, vary or revoke modern award minimum wages; and
(c) must make a national minimum wage order.

Fair Work Australia must, in relation to each annual wage review, ensure that all persons and bodies have a reasonable opportunity to make and comment on written submissions for consideration in the review. It must also publish all submissions made to FWA for consideration in the review.

The President of FWA may also direct that matter be investigated, and that a report about the matter be prepared, for consideration in an annual wage review. If research is conducted for the purposes of an annual wage review, FWA must publish the research so that submissions can be made addressing issues covered by the research.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§285, 289, 290, 291

Minimum wage set through decentralized collective bargaining

A minimum wage may be agreed between the parties at an enterprise level and set in an enterprise agreement. This wage must not be less than the national minimum wage or the wage set in the relevant modern award.
Fair Work Act 2009 §206

Criteria

The Fair Work Act sets out a number of criteria to be taken into account by FWA when fixing the minimum wage.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284

Needs of workers and their families

FWA is required to take account of relative living standards and the needs of the low paid.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(c)

Cost of living

FWA is required to take account of relative living standards and the needs of the low paid.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(c)

Level of wages and incomes in the country

FWA is required to take account of relative living standards and the needs of the low paid. It is also to have regard to the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(c) and (d)

Economic development

FWA must take account of the performance and competitiveness of the national economy, including productivity, business competitiveness and viability, inflation and employment growth.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(a)

Productivity

FWA must take account of the performance and competitiveness of the national economy, including productivity, business competitiveness and viability, inflation and employment growth.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(a)

Level of employment

FWA must have regard to promoting social inclusion through increased workforce participation.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(b)

Capacity of employers to pay

FWA must take account of the performance and competitiveness of the national economy, including productivity, business competitiveness and viability, inflation and employment growth.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(a)

Inflation rate

FWA must take account of the performance and competitiveness of the national economy, including productivity, business competitiveness and viability, inflation and employment growth.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(a)

Other provisions

FWA must take into account the need to provide a comprehensive range of fair minimum wages to junior employees, employees to whom training arrangements apply and employees with a disability.
Fair Work Act 2009 §284(1)(e)

Coverage


Scope

The scope of modern award minimum wages is determined by the scope of the relevant modern award.

The national minimum wage order applies to employees who are not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement and who are not:
(a) junior employees; or
(b) employees to whom training arrangements apply; or
(c) employees with a disability.

The special national minimum wage applies to the employees to whom it is expressed in the order to apply and must include all junior employees, employees to whom training arrangements apply and employees who have a disability, and are not covered by an award or enterprise agreement.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§143, 282, 283, 294

Excluded categories


» Workers

Workers on vocational placements are not covered by the Fair Work Act 2009.
Fair Work Act 2009 §13

» Sectors

No sectors are explicitly excluded from the national minimum wage coverage. However, employees of state governments and prescribed authorities are excluded by virtue of the limits on the state referral of their industrial relations power to the Commonwealth.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§13, 14, 30C, 30D
Fair Work (State Declarations) Endorsements 2009 and 2010

Specific minimum wage rates


» Specific minimum wage by sector

These are set by FWA in the relevant modern awards and are adjusted annually with reference to adjustments to the national minimum wage.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§135, 285

Level


Minimum wage level(s) in national currency

The 2009-2010 national minimum wage order set a national minimum wage of $569.90 per week or $15 per hour with effect from 1 July 2010.

Modern award minimum wages were increased by $26 per week or 69 cents an hour (based on a 38 hour week) with effect from 1 July 2010. The resulting minimum wage level differs between industries.
FWA Annual Wage Decision 2009-2010 paragraphs 424 and 426

Last minimum wage update

The last decision was handed down on 3 June 2010, with effect from 1 July 2010.
FWA Annual Wage Decision 2009-2010 paragraph 346

In-kind allowances

Wages are to be paid in money by cash, by electronic funds transfer to an account of the employee, by cheque, money order, postal order or similar payable to the employee, or by a method authorised under a modern award or enterprise agreement.
Fair Work Act 2009 §323

Rate of payment

The Fair Work Act 2009 requires that wages be paid in accordance with any applicable modern award or enterprise agreement and at least monthly.
Fair Work Act 2009 §323

Scheduled frequency of adjustment

FWA must conduct and complete an annual wage review in each financial year
Fair Work Act 2009 §285

Enforcement mechanisms

It is an offence under the Fair Work Act 2009 to contravene a national minimum wage order or a term of modern award.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§45, 293

Labour inspection

Primary responsibility for labour inspection is held by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). FWO inspectors have the power to enter workplaces for the purposes of checking compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009.

Authorised union officials also have limited rights under the Fair Work Act to enter workplaces where members work to investigate suspected contraventions.
Fair Work Act 2009 For function and powers of FWO inpsectors - see Subdivision D of Division 3 of Part 5-3 of Chapter 5
For union right of entry provisions - see Part 3-4 of Chapter 3

Fines in national currency for non-respect of legislation

The Fair Work Act 2009 sets a penalty of 60 penalty units ($110) for a contravention of a modern award or a national minimum wage order. This consistutes a fine of AUD$6600 per contravention.
Fair Work Act 2009 §§45, 539
Crimes Act 1914 §4AA

Results generated on: 23rd July 2014 at 05:53:19.
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