What is the Australian minimum wage?

All Australian workers are entitled to a minimum wage. This is the least you can be paid for doing a certain job.

It’s illegal for an employer to pay you less than the minimum wage. 

As of 1 July 2023, the national minimum wage is $23.23 an hour or $882.74 a week (if you work 38 hours).

The only employees who can be paid less are:

  • workers aged under 21;
  • workers on the Supported Wage System, and
  • apprentices and trainees.

Otherwise, the national minimum wage is what it says on the box: the lowest rate you can be paid, no matter what your job.

If you think you are not being paid the national minimum wage, contact your AWU delegate, or join the union!

Casual workers and the minimum wage

Casual workers usually miss out on some entitlements permanent employees get, such as paid sick leave or annual leave, so casuals covered by the national minimum wage get at least a 25% casual loading to help compensate.

Depending on your award or agreement, you may even be entitled to more than 25%.

To find out more, contact your AWU delegate, or join the union!

How does my award or enterprise agreement fit the minimum wage?

Most workplaces are covered by an award or enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) that sets the rates of pay for your industry, workplace or enterprise.

These are usually negotiated by unionised employees and achieve pays that are often higher than the national minimum wage. It’s just one more reason to join your union.

Employees might also be covered by a contract of employment that can provide for a higher rate of pay again.

To find out more, contact your AWU delegate, or join the union!

Young workers and the minimum wage

Minimum wages for award/agreement free workers aged under 21 are worked out as a percentage of the national minimum. If you are:

  • Under 16, you should get 36.8%, or $8.55 an hour.
  • Aged 16, you should get 47.3%, or $10.98 an hour.
  • Aged 17, you should get 57.8%, or $13.42 an hour.
  • Aged 18, you should get 68.3%, or $15.87 an hour.
  • Aged 19, you should get 82.5%, or $19.16 an hour.
  • Aged 20, you should get 97.7%,or $22.70 an hour.

Under some awards or EBAs, you will be entitled to a greater hourly rate. You may even be entitled to the full adult minimum wage.

Want to find out more, or to check that you are being paid enough? Contact your AWU delegate, or join the union!

Commission payments and piece-rates

Some jobs pay according to how much work you get done, rather than your hours.

Often these jobs are still covered by an award or agreement, which means that you should be paid at a rate above the national minimum wage.

Even if your job is not covered by an award or agreement, it’s not fair for your employer to pay you less than the national minimum wage.

The AWU can help if your employer isn’t paying you right. So contact your AWU delegate, or join the union!

Apprenticeships and Traineeships

Different minimum wages apply to you if you are employed under a registered training agreement, such as an apprenticeship or traineeship.

Your wage will depend on what job you are doing and how old you are.

Depending on what kind of work you are doing, your minimum wage might also increase the longer you are there, or as you get better at your job.

If you are an apprentice or a trainee, contact the AWU for advice, or join the union!

The Supported Wage System

The Supported Wage System applies to employees who have a disability that reduces their capacity to work.

It’s up to the Department of Social Services (DSS) to decide whether you should be paid a Supported Wage System rate – your boss cannot make this decision.

It’s also up to the DSS to assess your capacity and to decide what rate you should be paid at.

How does the union help?

Pay rises don’t just happen. Somebody has to ask for them and that’s where the AWU comes in.

The Fair Work Commission reviews and adjusts the minimum wage every year. It’s the only guaranteed wage increase anywhere in the economy, so it’s very important.

Australian unions, including the AWU, campaign on your behalf for it to be increased, while big businesses usually lobby for it to be frozen or even cut.

On the minimum wage, and wages and conditions in general, the more of us who join the union, the better our chances of getting a fairer deal.

So it’s up to us all to join the union!


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