The annual minimum wage review has kicked off today, but according to some business heads, the review could not be worse timing for employers.
The Fair Work Commission began its annual minimum wage hearings in Melbourne this morning, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is seeking a $30 per week boost to the minimum wage. It says it is necessary to address a significant gap between the wages of the country's lowest paid and the rest of the workforce.
Business groups, however, are lobbying for a much lower figure. The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has submitted an increase of $12 per week, and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has voted for a rise of $5.80.
According to the ACCI, if the ACTU’s submission is accepted, a $30 per week rise would cost businesses nearly $2.5bn each year and, ultimately, jobs could be on the chopping block. "We are fast reaching an economic tipping point where the capacity of employers to sustain jobs below a 6% unemployment figure is at risk with this excessive union wage claim, the ink barely dry on a federal budget that requires more levy lifting from the corporate sector with $2.4bn in additional taxes plus the quarter of a per cent higher payroll tax in July to fund compulsory superannuation," ACCI CEO Peter Anderson said yesterday.
The hearings continue, and any change to minimum wages will start from 1 July. Employers may sign up for updates from the Fair Work Ombudsman, which will email out information about minimum wages. Click here for more information.