Published September 2021
In June this year, the Fair Work Commission announced a 2.5% increase to the National Minimum Wage and Award wages. It was also announced that these increases will occur over a 3 stage rollout, with the first rollout taking place on 1 July 2021.
The second rollout has now recently taken effect from the 1 September 2021 and the third rollout is due to take effect from 1 November 2021. It is important that Employers are aware that these increases take effect from the first full pay period commencing on or after the dates listed.
Below breaks down the Modern Awards that are impacted:
Stage 2: 1 September 2021: General Retail Industry Award only.
Stage 3: 1 November 2021: the following Awards only:
Air Pilots Award
Aircraft Cabin Crew Award
Airline Operations – Ground Staff Award
Airport Employees Award
Airservices Australia Enterprise Award
Alpine Resorts Award
Amusement, Events and Recreation Award
Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award
Fitness Industry Award
Hair and Beauty Industry Award
Hospitality Industry (General) Award
Live Performance Award
Mannequins and Models Award
Marine Tourism and Charter Vessels Award
Racing Clubs Events Award
Racing Industry Ground Maintenance Award
Registered and Licensed Clubs Award
Restaurant Industry Award
Sporting Organisations Award
Travelling Shows Award
Wine Industry Award
The Fair Work Ombudsman Announcement can be found here.
WHAT DO EMPLOYERS NEED TO DO?
1. If your employees are covered by an impacted an award, familiarise yourself with the new rates and effective dates then ensure any necessary changes are passed on by the first full pay period starting on or after the relevant effective date. If your award is not listed here, its increase took effect in July 2021.
2. Now is also a good time to check that each employee is correctly classified under the Award level applicable for the work they perform and is receiving any applicable allowances.
3. Any changes to employment details or entitlements should be confirmed in writing for each employee.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Wage compliance is a significant area of focus for the Fair Work Commission so it’s important you get it right. There are heavy penalties and costly backpay obligations that may result if employers do not act on these changes.
WHAT IF I PAY ABOVE AWARD?
If you currently pay above the award minimum rate, we recommend checking the new (increased) pay rates and ensuring the current pay rate for each employee is still at or above the new minimum.
You are not required to increase your pay rates if they remain the same as or better than the new minimum rates.
ARE ALLOWANCES IMPACTED?
Some allowances will also be impacted by the increases. Where an allowance is expressed as a percentage of the ‘standard’ rate (which is linked to the wage of a particular classification in the Award) or considered an ‘all purpose allowance’, these allowances will generally increase in line with the ‘standard rate’.
You should check the allowances applicable to your team once the Fair Work Commission has updated the Awards and pay guides, and also check that any applicable superannuation is calculating correctly on these amounts.
WHAT ABOUT ENTERPRISE AGREEMENTS?
Employers should undertake a review of their enterprise agreement rates to ensure the Award rates don’t ‘leapfrog’ the enterprise agreement rates. Where they fall behind, EA rates should be increased to (at least) match the new Award minimum rates.
Employers who have committed to annual wage increases in their Enterprise Agreements should also review these provisions.
WHAT ABOUT FLAT RATES and IFA’s?
If you pay any employees a flat rate or have an Individual Flexibility Arrangement in place, you should ensure the employee/s remain better off overall when compared to the new minimum rates and allowances. We recommend undertaking an assessment of each arrangement to ensure compliance.
WHAT ABOUT ANNUAL SALARIES?
Employees paid annual salaries may be impacted in different ways depending, for example, on whether they are:
· Covered by an Award or EA;
· Award free;
· Covered by an Award containing ‘annualised wage’ provisions.
We recommend reviewing the above, along with individual employee circumstances to ensure compliance.
WHERE CAN I GET HELP?
Wage compliance is a significant area of focus for the Fair Work Ombudsman so it’s important you get it right.
Unfortunately, it’s also complicated, tedious and time consuming so let us help you!
Contact the Edwards HR team to understand how this decision may impact your business or to discuss how we can look after your wage assessment compliance needs.
To find out more about where the Fair Work Ombudsman is focusing its efforts, read this employer update.