Whether you’re an Australian resident on a temporary work visa, a contractor or employee, being paid a fair wage for a day’s work is an important issue. The National Employment Standards (NES) was introduced on 1 January 2010 to provide a national benchmark for minimum wages in Australia.

Read on to learn more about the laws that govern the minimum wage in Australia or speak to an employment lawyer at Owen Hodge if you have any questions.

minimum wage in australia

In Australia, all employees are entitled to a minimum wage. This is the lowest amount that an employee can be paid for the work they’re doing.

An employee’s minimum pay rate can come from an enterprise agreement, an award or the national minimum wage. The national minimum wage applies to employees that aren’t covered by an award or agreement.

Each year, the Fair Work Commission reviews the minimum wage in Australia. As of July 2021, the national minimum wage is $20.33 per hour or $772.60 per week.

Learn more: employment contracts

Types of minimum wages in Australia

The minimum wage in Australia can also differ for certain employees based on their age, work capacity or employment type. This can impact:

  • Apprentices and trainees
  • Junior employees
  • Employees with disability pay rates

What is the minimum wage in NSW?

For most NSW employees, the minimum wage is set by the award that covers their industry or occupation. For any employees not covered by an award or enterprise agreement, they will be covered by the national minimum wage. As of July 2021, the national minimum wage is $20.33 per hour or $772.60 per week.

The minimum wage in Australia falls under the Fair Work Act 2009. Awards or registered agreements also contain terms and conditions about the following:

  • Minimum wages
  • Overtime and penalty rates
  • Types of employment
  • Work arrangements (eg. rosters, variation to working hours)
  • Hours of work
  • Rest breaks
  • Classifications
  • Allowances
  • Leave and leave loadings (including personal, annual and parental leave)
  • Superannuation
  • Procedures for consultation, representation and dispute settlement.

Some modern awards also contain terms about redundancy and redundancy pay. It is important to note that modern awards may not apply to some managers or employees who have guaranteed annual earnings of more than $108,300, even if a modern award covers the industry they work in.

The purpose of minimum wage laws is to prevent employers from exploiting employees. The minimum wage in Australia is reviewed each year to ensure it provides enough income to support employees.

The minimum wage laws also outline how employees must be paid for all the hours they work.

Seek advice

Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website to check if you’re paid the right entitlements. The website has a handy calculator so you can work out whether you are being paid the correct wage. You can also find out more about leave entitlements and the different types of employment and entitlements.

Speak to management

If possible, you should try and resolve matters at an organisational level before seeking further assistance. Approach your direct supervisor or someone you trust (such as a work safety representative), or someone from human resources (HR) to discuss whether you are being paid the right entitlements.

You can also speak to a minimum wage lawyer to understand your rights.

Make a complaint

If a matter cannot be dealt with through organisational processes, then external options may be considered. You can make a workplace complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman in regards to the following:

  • You are not receiving the correct pay
  • You are not receiving the right conditions (such as annual leave)
  • You are not receiving the correct workplace rights (for example someone tried to force you to sign an agreement)
  • You believe you are being discriminated against in the workplace

Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website to find out more about the different kinds of workplace complaints, when and how to make a complaint, documents you require, privacy issues and what happens during the resolution process.

Dismissed after a complaint

If you are dismissed because of a complaint, you may be eligible to claim for unfair dismissal. Speak to the unfair dismissal lawyers at Owen Hodge for guidance in this matter.

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Proceed with legal action

If your complaint cannot be resolved at the organisation level or through the Fair Work Ombudsman, you may want to seek legal action. Our employment lawyers in Sydney are able to advise you about the minimum wage in Australia. Contact our employment law team on 1800 770 780 for advice on minimum wage laws and workplace rights.

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