Another minimum wage rise above inflation puts small business and job seekers at risk

30 May 2019 |

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australia’s largest and most representative business network, is concerned that the 3% rise in minimum wages announced today will put jobs in danger and risk the viability of some small businesses.

“Australia already has one of the highest minimum wages in the world, and continuously increasing minimum wages by significantly more than inflation has consequences,” Australian Chamber CEO, James Pearson, said today.

“The increase awarded by the Fair Work Commission’s Expert Panel on Minimum Wages will increase the National Minimum Wage from $719.20 to $740.80, or $21.60 per week, but for someone being paid the median award on $1,100 per week, this increase will be $33 per week.

“This decision will increase the wages of around 2.2 million employees on award wages. It is not just the less than 2% of employees who are on the minimum wage who will receive a wage rise. It will cost Australian employers an additional $3.1 billion per year.

“The health of our labour market is relatively strong. However, parts of the country and some industry sectors are finding the going tough. Growing global uncertainty and a recent pause in employment growth point to risks.

“Employers respect the independent decisions of the Fair Work Commission, but a third straight increase well in excess of inflation will be difficult for businesses, particularly small businesses, to absorb.

“These increases will make it that much harder for more than 680,000 of our fellow Australians who are unemployed, and a further 1.1 million underemployed, to find a job or more hours of work.

“We hope today’s decision – the tenth straight annual increase in excess of inflation, and the third of 3% or more – restores a sense of perspective to the minimum wage debate. Recent attempts to portray Australia’s minimum wage rules as failing working people are misplaced. It is time to get back to facts and encourage collaboration not conflict between employers and employees.”

Duncan Bremner

Director - Public Affairs and Advocacy

P  |  0448 822 666

E  |  [email protected]

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