Significant changes to Australian employment law take effect from 1 July 2018

Date published

2018-07-02

Services

Annual Wage Review

On 1 June 2018, the Fair Work Commission issued its decision in the Annual Wage Review 2017-2018. This means:

  • From the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2018, the Australian minimum wage will increase by 3.5% (Wage Increase).
  • The Wage Increase applies to:
    (a) the National Minimum Wage, being an increase to $18.93 per hour for a part-time or full-time employee and an increase to $23.66 per hour for a casual employee (including 25% casual loading);
    (b) the adult minimum wage in modern awards
  • The High Income Threshold for unfair dismissal claims, has increased from $142,000 to $145,400.

National Minimum Wage

The National Minimum Wage applies to all adult national system employees who are not covered by a modern award or an enterprise agreement. It is referred to as Australia’s
“wage floor”: the minimum base rate of pay that an employer can pay an adult employee per hour.

High Income Threshold

A former employee (not covered by a modern award or an enterprise agreement) can make an unfair dismissal claim if their guarantee of annual earnings is less than the High Income Threshold. A guarantee of annual earnings does not include superannuation or discretionary payments (i.e. bonuses).

This increase to the High Income Threshold impacts on the maximum compensation awarded in an unfair dismissal claim, which has now increased to $72,600.

Whistleblower protections 

Amendments to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) have now expanded the class of persons who can seek protection as a “whistleblower” in Australian trade or commerce.

Previously, protection was only afforded to a discloser if the discloser was: “an officer of a company; or an employee of a company; or a person who has a contract for the supply of services or goods to a company; or an employee of a person who has a contract for the supply of services or goods to a company.”

From 1 July 2018 the definition of a discloser will be extended to former officers and employees. Other amendments that take effect from 1 July 2018, include the removal of the requirement that the discloser make a disclosure in good faith or that the discloser be required to provide his or her name.