There are a lot of terms you might hear when you’re looking for or starting a new job – minimum wage, award rate, penalty rates, overtime. All these terms have to do with pay, but some terms can overlap or mean different things in different workplaces. It’s important to know if you’re covered by an award or by the national minimum wage, so that you know you’re getting paid the correct amount from your workplace.
Find out more about all the important parts of your pay slip, including the minimum wages for 2023 in Australia, below.
What is minimum wage?
‘Minimum wage’ is the term for the lowest rate per hour that you can be paid for their work. In Australia, the Fair Work Commission sets the minimum wage. The national minimum wage for 2023 is $21.38 per hour or $812.60 per week.
What are awards and award rates?
Most workers and industries are covered by an award, which is a legal document that outlines the standards for certain jobs and industries. An award covers topics such as ordinary hours, extra allowances and pay rates. These workers are entitled to an award rate, which is the minimum wage defined in the award that covers their role. The minimum award rate often matches the national minimum wage, but in some industries it can be higher.
Depending on the work you do and the industry you are in, you might be under a different award to some of your teammates. For example, if you work as a farm labourer, you could be under a different award than your workmate who is in logistics for the same company.
Age can impact the minimum wage or award rate that you are eligible for, too. If you are 21 or over, you are considered an adult and receive the full amount. If you are 20 or under, you’re considered a junior and are only eligible to receive a percentage of the adult minimum wage. The percentage amount depends on your age and increases with each birthday until you hit 21. For example, a 17-year-old may be eligible for 70% of the adult wage. Some industries don’t have junior rates. In this case, all employees under 21 will receive the same adult rate.
Here is a list of the minimum wage for blue-collar industries in 2023:
Sugar (Harvesting): $23.12
Waste Management: $22.59
Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing: $21.38
Manufacturing and Associated Industries: $21.38
Poultry Processing: $22.07
Seafood Processing: $21.38
Meat Industry: $21.38
Transport & Logistics
Road Transport & Distribution: $22.59
Road Transport (Long Distance): $23.40
Find out your minimum wage and more information on the Fair Work Commission website.
If you’re an apprentice or a trainee, you will receive the minimum wage or award rate for your level of training and the industry you’re in. This amount depends on a range of other factors, such as your age and any prior learning. Your wage will also increase as you progress through each level of your course, or if you have worked for a certain amount of time to gain extra skills.
If you’re looking to get paid more than minimum wage, you have a few options. Some employers pay above minimum wage to attract staff. Otherwise, you can get extra pay by working overtime or on weekends and public holidays.
What is overtime?
Overtime is the extra hours worked outside of your typical working hours. This can include staying back at the end of your shift or doing the night shift. There are laws around the amount of overtime you can work and the pay you receive for the extra hours. This is to make sure you’re not fatigued or taken advantage of.
What are penalty rates?
Penalty rates are the extra pay that you can receive for working outside of normal hours, such as on weekends and public holidays. You are also entitled to penalty rates for any overtime that you work. They are often calculated in percentage increases from your base hourly rate, such as 50% (time-and-a-half) or 100% (double-time). Many people put their hand up for extra work to get paid a penalty rate, as it can mean getting paid for 8 hours of work after only working half of that.
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