2.2 million Aussie better off after minimum wage increase

By Dean Blake | 31 May 2019 View comments

More than 2.2 million Australians are set to better off after the Fair Work Commission (FWC) delivered a long-awaited pay rise. On Thursday, the body confirmed a 3 per cent minimum wage increase, to take affect July 1.

The minimum wage increase amounts to $740.80 per week, or $19.49 an hour, $21.60 more than the current weekly figure. All modern award minimum wages will also increase by 3 per cent.

Despite a welcome response from the nation’s workers, some bodies predict the increase may have lasting effects for retailers. The National Retailers Association (NRA) warned that this increase could create problems for business owners, as they head into a potentially more challenging period ahead.

“The NRA remains concerned that the challenging period experienced by the sector is not over, which is why we advocated for a minimum wage increase of no more than 1.8 per cent,” NRA chief executive Dominique Lamb said.

“Although we remain wary about the impact this rise may have on mum-and-dad small businesses, we most certainly welcome the fact that the FWC strongly rejected the job-destroying increase of 6 per cent proposed by the [Australian Council of Trade Unions].”

FWC president Ian Ross said the current economic conditions justified the wage increase, and that it was not likely to see a measurable negative impact on employment.

Employsure founder and managing director of workplace relations Ed Mallett noted that the decision has a disproportionate effect on small businesses. Customers likely won’t see a 3 per cent rise in prices, meaning businesses will need to make up the difference themselves.

“In just over a month, businesses will need to absorb these changes and will be expected to be compliant,” Mallett said.

“Wages have been a part of the national debate for the past few months and it’s important to strike a balance between employees and employers.

“Wages will always change and that is just the nature of the economy, but that doesn’t mean businesses won’t struggle.”