Fair Work Commission Annual Wage Review

Wednesday 16 June 2021

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said it is disappointed that despite continued uncertain economic conditions, the Fair Work Commission’s Annual Wage Review has today determined a 2.5% increase to the minimum wage, marking the retail sectors second wage increase for 2021 coupled with rises in the Superannuation Guarantee rate.

The increase to the minimum wage will take effect from 1 July, with a delayed commencement date for those under the General Retail Industry Award 2020 of 1 September 2021 and 1 November 2021 for those under the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2020 and the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010.

“In our submission to the Fair Work Commission, the ARA supported a decision to be made on the minimum wage this financial year, but that any increase should be in line with inflation and not take effect until 1 February 2022, due to uncertainty and the uneven recovery in retail,” ARA CEO Paul Zahra said.

“Whilst we appreciate the FWC delaying the increase for retailers, which is in line with the ARA’s advocacy, the timing of the increase remains a significant concern coming only months after the previous increase and just ahead of the critical Christmas trading period which is the most expansive employment period for retailers.

“The Federal injection of JobKeeper into the economy ended March 28 of this year with a significant reduction also in the JobSeeker stimulus. The economic impact of these changes cannot be determined until further data is made available in the coming months. What we do know is that whilst there has been overall retail growth, challenges remain for many small businesses.

“Businesses are still adjusting to the last wage increase on 1 February this year and face additional pressure when an increase to the Superannuation Guarantee increase kicks in from 1 July.

“Our economic recovery remains uneven, with many businesses – particularly small businesses in CBD locations, travel retail and in Victoria – continuing to struggle for survival. The Covid threat is also far from over, with 33 days of state-imposed lockdowns already in 2021 – as we’ve seen with the recent lockdown in Victoria which devastated businesses who couldn’t trade for two weeks.

“Small retail businesses and hospitality businesses continue to face Covid restrictions such as density quotients which restrict their ability to operate at full or profitable capacity whilst they now must absorb the full level of operating costs, including full rent and staff costs.”

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