Employsure Managing Director Edward Mallett.

End of financial year is a significant time for SMEs and with one of the most complex workplace relations systems in the world, it is essential that business owners stay updated and compliant with the changes that come into effect on, or after 1 July.

Wage reviews and Award updates

Each year, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) reviews the National Minimum Wage and base pay rates under Awards with changes to be implemented on the first full pay period on or after 1 July.

While there are different base rates for different job types under Awards, each of these stems from one core minimum wage, which all businesses in Australia must abide by. Casual workers are covered by this National Minimum Wage, but they must also receive at least 25 percent casual loading.

Employers must be across any changes and updates to wages and Awards that are effective 1 July 2017.

Penalty rates

A reduction to public holiday penalty rates under some Awards will take effect on 1 July. As for Sunday penalty rates, one of the options proposed by the FWC was to phase in the reductions through a series of annual adjustments on 1 July each year (while the date is not yet confirmed, employers need to be ready) to coincide with any increases in Modern Award minimum wages arising from Annual Wage Review decisions.

If a business has employees covered by the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 (Fast Food Award) or the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 (Restaurant Award), there is a change coming to the span of hours on which the late night/early morning penalty rates are payable.

The FWC delayed the introduction from March until 1 July, meaning it will coincide with the reduction of public holiday penalty rates under the following Awards:

  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
  • Restaurant Industry Award 2010
  • General Retail Industry Award 2010
  • Fast Food Industry Award 2010
  • Pharmacy Industry Award 2010

“It is so important for small business to be across these changes. Workplace compliance can feel like a minefield and it is essential to get the right advice to avoid paying too little or too much” said Employsure managing director Edward Mallett.

Where to from here?

Employers need to listen out for announcements and visit the FWC and Fair Work Ombudsman websites for updates.

Once they are available, employers need to ascertain what the new pay rates are for their employees, be that via the government body websites or through tailored advice from a workplace relations specialist such as Employsure, and ensure that they are paying their employees in accordance with these new rates.

As always, it is important that employers ensure record keeping aspects, such as rosters and pay slips, are in order. This will enable an easier transition to the new rates.

In relation to the reduced penalty rates on public holidays, it is not necessary to pass on this reduction to employees. Employers may choose to continue paying their employees at the same rate as they were before, provided this is above the minimum set by the Modern Award.

Image: Employsure managing director Edward Mallett. [credit] anthillonline.com

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