The WA Industrial Relations Commission has announced a 2.75% increase to the state minimum wage for the 2019/20 financial year. This increase will apply from 1 July 2019, and will mean that the new WA minimum wage, at $746.90 per week, will still be greater than the national minimum wage, which is to increase to $740.80 per week.
As well as a raise to the state minimum wage, WA award rates will also be raised by 2.75%.
The Commission estimates that: “approximately 27,000 employers and over 300,000 employees are likely to be directly or indirectly affected by rises in the minimum wage and minimum award wages.”
Why the increase?
The Commission is required by the Industrial Relations Act 1979 to take a number of factors into consideration when deciding on whether to increase the minimum wage and award rates, including the following:
After considering these factors and in its decision, the Commission commented that:
“The Western Australian economy is now in the process of improving … and there are signs of growth. However, Western Australia’s economy compares unfavourably with the rest of the national economy, and in that context, the national economy also has its challenges.”
The Commission also noted that: “Sectors of the Western Australian economy where employees are reliant on award increases and the low paid generally are employed, have not yet seen improvements in their profitability or employment growth. Signs of improvement in industries such as mining have not yet flowed to the rest of the economy.”
“A number of factors of particular concern are the spare capacity in the economy and the desire for there to be higher employment, hours worked and other improvements in employment and productivity. The cost of living, measured by Perth Consumer Price Index has increased but only at a low level and low in comparison with other capital cities.”
(The Commission’s full statement and decision can be found at: http://www.wairc.wa.gov.au/index.php/en/latest-news/550-state-minimum-wage-set-at-746-90-per-week)
Is this increase enough?
Not everyone believes that this increase is sufficient to assist low paid workers. Meredith Hammat, Secretary for UnionsWA, commented:
“Today’s decision to increase the WA minimum wage by 2.75% is welcomed however it won’t go far enough to relieve the financial pressure facing working people and their families… It is disappointing that this WA decision is lower than the recent decision to increase the National Minimum Wage by 3%.”
(You can find further comments from UnionsWA at: https://www.unionswa.com.au/pay_decision_not_enough_for_living_costs)
How does this effect employers?
If you are an employer paying employees based on these rates, you should be prepared to implement this change from the first full pay period from 1 July 2019. All award rates will be available on the Industrial Relations Commission website and https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/labour-relations.
Please also remember that, as of 1 July 2019:
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The above information is a summary and overview of the matters discussed. This publication does not constitute legal advice and you should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.