The current national minimum wage in Australia is $18.93 per hour or $719.20 per 38-hour week, effective from 1 July 2018. Modern Award wages also increased by 3.5% from July 2018. All Australian employers must also pay superannuation support. Employers pay a percentage of the ordinary time earnings of their employees (including part-time and casual employees) who are aged over 18, and who are paid $450 (before tax) a month, into a complying superannuation fund or retirement savings account. The current Superannuation Guarantee rate is at 9.5% for the 2019/2020 financial year. Under current legislation the rate will remain at 9.5% until 30 June 2021, and will then increase to 10% from 1 July 2021, and then increase by 0.5% increments each year until it reaches 12% by 1 July 2025.
Maximum Working Week
The law provides for a 38-hour week and the notion of an employer’s right to request reasonable additional hours.
Assessment of whether additional hours are “reasonable” involves factors which include the employee’s remuneration, patterns of work in the industry, and the nature of the employee’s role. As previously mentioned, all employees covered by an Award, enterprise agreement or registered agreement may also be entitled to a higher pay rate and additional allowances when working on weekends, public holidays, overtime, early in the morning and/or late at night or in difficult or unpleasant circumstances.
Employer’s Obligation to Provide a Healthy and Safe Workplace
The primary duty is to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers while the workers are at work in the business or undertaking. The primary duty is also to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the health and safety of other persons is not put at risk from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business or undertaking.
The harmonised laws also impose health and safety duties on officers, workers and other persons at the workplace. Officers have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the person conducting the business or undertaking complies with its duties or obligations. Workers and other persons at the workplace have the duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and the health and safety of others from their own actions, and to cooperate with persons conducting the business or undertaking to comply with the laws.
To begin with, all workplace incidents must be recorded in a register of injuries and investigated within the workplace. The internal investigation, including the outcome, all work changes or risk controls put in place as a result, and communications to workers should be documented. If confronted with a workplace health or safety issue or incident that is not effectively resolved within the workplace, a report should be made to the state WH&S body to assess the issue and commence and investigation if need be. Additionally, if a serious incident occurs, the WH&S body should be contacted immediately, or penalties will apply.