When we talk about minimum wage, we’re referring to the lowest possible amount that an employee can be paid for their work. As a business owner and employer, you are obligated under legislation to pay your employees the correct rate. This includes any entitlements that your employees may be eligible for, including sick leave, overtime, and/or any parental leave that they may require. The wages and entitlements that employers are required to pay depend on a number of factors including the age of your employee, the industry you are in, their qualifications, and the duties that they are performing.
The rates of payment are dictated by the Commonwealth Government and the governments in each state. To help employers calculate the amounts that they should be paying their employees the Fair Work Ombudsman has a calculator which works out the award that employees should be paid.
The current minimum wage for full-time work is $719.20 per week. This figure works out to be a minimum hourly rate of $18.93.
This is the lowest amount that you can pay an employee and must be adhered to by all businesses operating in Australia. We wanted to create this guide to ensure that you are meeting your obligations and paying your employees correctly. Underpaying employees is a serious business: you might have seen the recent wages scandals involving 7-11 employees being underpaid, and not even celebrity chefs are immune with George Calombaris hit by claims of underpayment. But you don’t need to be in big business to be struck by underpayment issues – which is why we want to bring some clarity to this and ensure that you are always hitting the mark when it comes to paying your employees.
The current minimum wage in Australia
Every job type and award has a different minimum wage – but every industry and business stems from the minimum wage mentioned above: $18.93 an hour or $719.20 (gross) for a 38-hour week. If you have casual staff, they also have to be covered by this minimum wage along with 25% loading.
- When working out payment rates, you need to factor in minimum entitlements under any relevant awards or agreements within your industry – such as hospitality, construction, health, etc.
- You will need to consider the job type, experience in the role, and whether there is, in fact, an award or agreement in place for your industry.
- Minimum wage is determined by the Fair Work Commission and is based on an assessment of a range of factors
- Wages will vary for adults who have experience and qualifications
Can I pay above the award rate?
The minimum outlined wage which we mentioned above is the minimum amount required to be paid. You are absolutely able to pay more to your team, and many employers do this to entice a higher quality of employee. The only thing you need to be aware of is that the minimum wage does increase, so you need to ensure that you are always paying above the minimum award to stay in line with the baseline requirements and to enact increases wherever necessary.
Do I just need to pay the minimum? What about overtime?
The base minimum payable is a base salary which is required for a standard 38-hour working week. If your team member does extra hours or works a certain time, they will be required to be paid in accordance with these conditions.
- Employees will often require payment at a higher rate when working late, early or on weekends or public holidays.
- Penalty rates are calculated using an award or agreement and can vary across industries.
- Overtime will vary from industry to industry but will attract a higher rate of payment above and beyond the working week of 38 hours. You may be able to provide other benefits such as time in lieu (of payment) – but note that employees will not be paid overtime unless their contract stipulates that they will be paid overtime.
- Allowances are often payable for certain conditions and activities such as working at height, or in confined spaces.
It is always best to consult with a professional organisation to ensure that you have a full understanding of the minimum wages payable for your employees.
What are the consequences of not meeting minimum payments for employees?
If you do not make the requisite payments to your team, you may be fined and required to provide backpay for your employees. It is always best to be on the front foot when it comes to minimum wage payments and at Go Figured, we can assist you in ensuring that the payment of your team is aligned with national Awards or Agreements.
Contact us today at Go Figured to find out more about how we can help you meet your employer obligations. You can reach us on (07) 3608 4206 or contact us online.