As 1 July quickly approaches, the Fair Work Commission is receiving regular submissions from key employee and employer representative groups as to the extent of any national minimum wage increase that should be handed down in the 2016-17 National Minimum Wage Case.
For employers, key groups such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry are seeking a maximum wage increase of 1.2% which equates to $7.90 per week, noting that recent wage increases by the Fair Work Commission panel have seen the incomes of employees covered by Modern Awards rise more quickly than those employees who do not come within the scope of an award.
The Australian Industry Group are seeking a similar maximum increase of 1.6%, or $10.50 per week, calling on the Fair Work Commission panel to ‘fully take into account the needs of those whose jobs will be threatened (including many low paid workers) if an excessive minimum wage increase is awarded’.
In contrast, the Australian Council of Trade is calling for a 4.6% increase, or $30.00 per week, citing amongst its reasons a ‘slide in relative living standards’ as the basis for calling for a larger increase.
Other major associations such as the Australian Hotels Association and the National Retail Association are seeking similar increases to that sought by the ACCI and the AIG, making submissions for a 1.2% and 1.6% increase respectively.
In the 2015-16 decision, the panel handed down a 2.5% increase, being an increase of $16 per week.
Implications for employers: As 1 July draws closer and more submissions are made by relevant bodies, it will be interesting to see the position taken by the Federal Government in any submissions that it may make in relation to the 2016-17 National Minimum Wage Case.
Lisa Aitken is an accredited specialist in workplace relations law and the principal of Aitken Legal, a law firm specialising in employment law for employers. www.aitkenlegal.com.au. The information in this column is intended as a guide only. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.