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Your Questions Answered about the 2015 Australian Minimum Wage Increase

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by Lisa Johnson

about 2 years ago

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The minimum wage for Australian adults has been raised, coming into effect from 1st July 2015.  This affects the minimum award levels for all modern awards, and if you are currently being paid at award minimum, your wages should go up from Wednesday, 1st July 2015.

How can I check if I am being paid at or above award minimum rates?

Whilst getting through to FairWork on the telephone is much like stabbing yourself in the forehead with a blunt pencil, they HAVE made their website pretty user friendly.  And they have this fabulous product they call P.A.C.T (I don't even know what that stands for – I think that they were just so excited that they got to invent an acronym that sounds like something the FBI would come up with, that they just ran with it).  

You can find P.A.C.T here.  So what is it?  It's an online tool for establishing what award you are working under and what the minimum award rates/conditions are for that award. Your recruitment agency should tell you which award and at which level/grade you are being paid when they offer you a temporary assignment.  But if you are not sure, you can use P.A.C.T to narrow it down and select the right award/award level. 

Once you have answered some basic questions about your age and employment status (if you are temping, select 'casual') you will be able to view the pay rates and see if you are being paid correctly. Note: P.A.C.T will show current pay rates, so if you use it before 1st July you will be seeing the correct rates for the 2013/2014 financial year only.

Is everyone covered by a modern award?

No.  There are a number of industry/employment types that have always been excluded from award conditions.  For example, a qualified senior accountant is not covered under the clerks Private Sector Award because their role has been determined as professional and outside the scope of the award.  Having said that, there are some industry awards that DO over professional roles...which makes life challenging, believe me. However, the likelihood is that you are covered by an award – and even if not, you are still covered by the National Employment Standards (which sets the minimum wage), so there are some entitlements that nobody can take from you.

What do I do if I think I am being paid below award rates?

First, double check with your employer (the agency in most cases if you are a casual employee) and ask them to clarify the award and award grade/level that you are working under.  Then use P.A.C.T to check the pay rates.  If you think that you are underpaid after consulting P.A.C.T, go back to your agency and ask that they explain/clarify your pay rate.  Ask for an increase to meet award minimum. If they refuse to do so, then contact FairWork to seek further assistance.  Yes I know, you will be on hold for longer than a week and could watch a marathon of Orange is the New Black during that time, but be patient – they are very helpful and nice to deal with, and they are there to support you.

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