Is there a minimum wage in Australia?


In June this year, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) announced that it would be increasing the minimum wage in Australia by 3.3% from $17.70 to $18.29 per hour. While this was met with consternation by employers who felt that the minimum wage increase would impede employment growth, this highlights the reality that it is important for employers to keep up with employment regulations.

Related reading: 5 key legal considerations when hiring a new employee in Australia

A minimum wage is an employee’s base rate of pay for ordinary hours worked. In Australia, employers and employees cannot be paid less than their applicable wage, even if they agree to it.

How is the minimum wage in Australia determined?

Every year, the FWC’s Expert Panel reviews the minimum wage rate, taking into account written submissions from interested organisations and individuals, consultations before the Expert Panel and research commissioned by the Expert Panel. Following the review, the FWC makes a national minimum wage order that will apply from the first full pay period on or after 1 July each other.

What are the current national minimum wage rates?

The national minimum wage order sets out the following wages for employees not covered by an enterprise agreement or a modern award:

  • a national minimum wage
  • a special national minimum wage for:
    • trainees, apprentices and junior employees
    • employees to whom training arrangements apply
    • employees with a disability
  • a casual loading.

The national minimum wage is currently $18.29 per hour or $694.90 per 38 hour week (before tax).

Related reading: Is there a minimum wage in New Zealand?

As stated above, apart from the national minimum wage, there are a range of special national minimum wage rates that apply to different categories of employees.

Special national minimum wage 1 – for employees with disability which does not affect their productivity

The special national minimum wage for employees with disability which does not affect their productivity is the same as the national minimum wage of $694.90 per week, calculated on the basis of a week of 38 ordinary hours, or $18.29 per hour in the case of an adult.

Special national minimum wage 2 – for employees with disability who are unable to perform the range of duties to the competence level required

This special national minimum wage rate applies to an employee which meets the following criteria:

  • Employee with disability who is unable to perform the range of duties to the competence level required of an employee within the class of work for which the employee is engaged because of the effects of disability on their productive capacity;
  • Employee meets the impairment criteria for receipt of a Disability Support Pension; and
  • Employee is not a junior employee, or an apprentice, or an employee to whom a training arrangement applies.

Employees with a reduced work capacity due to their disability may qualify for the Supported Wage System (SWS). This is a process that allows employers to pay a productivity-based wage for people with disability that matches an independently assessed productivity rate.

According to Schedule A to the National Minimum Wage Order, an employee with disability can be paid a percentage of the relevant minimum rate, based on their assessed work capacity as assessed by a qualified assessor. For instance, a disabled employee with an assessed work capacity of 70% will get 70% of the classification in the award or registered agreement.

Learn more about pay rates for employees with disability.

Special national minimum wage 3 – for junior employees

A junior employee refers to an employee who is under 21 years of age. Juniors get paid a percentage of the relevant adult pay rate unless:

  • the award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement doesn’t have junior rates, or
  • they have completed an apprenticeship and are trade qualified.

The minimum wage rate for junior employees is based on a percentage of the national minimum wage. To determine the applicable minimum wage rate for junior employees in your industry, use the Pay Calculator provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Special national minimum wage 4 – for apprentices

In Australia, apprenticeships and traineeships are types of formal training arrangements that combine work with study for a qualification. These arrangements have to be formally registered with an appropriate state or territory training authority. Learn more about apprenticeships and traineeships.

In the case of apprentices, the pay rates vary for adult apprentices (an apprentice who is 21 years or older when they start their apprenticeship) and school-based apprentices (an apprentice who still goes to high school while completing the apprenticeship. If you are covered by a registered agreement, check the rates in the agreement.

The minimum wage rate for apprentices is based on the provisions in the Miscellaneous Award 2010 (clause 14) for apprentices. To determine the applicable minimum wage rate for apprentices in your industry, use the Pay Calculator provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Special national minimum wage 5 – for trainees

The minimum wage rate for trainees is be based on the provisions set out in the Miscellaneous Award 2010 (Schedule E) for employees to whom training arrangements apply. Trainees may also have other entitlements (e.g. penalty rates, overtime and allowances) from the industry or occupation award that covers them.

Different pay rates are applicable for different categories of trainees, whether a school-based trainee or a part-time trainee whose training is wholly off-the-job.

To determine the applicable minimum wage rate for trainees in your industry, use the Pay Calculator provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

What is the applicable minimum wage rate for employees covered by an award?

Most employees in the national workplace system are covered by a modern award. These contain the minimum wage, as well as other terms and conditions, for employees in particular industries and occupations.

To find out the minimum wage under a modern award, use the Pay Calculator provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Looking for a fuss-free way to draft your Employment Contracts that reflect the most updated law in the new countries you expand into?

Start managing your legal needs with Zegal today

Do you have any tips for hiring in the Australian market?

Share with us in the comments below!

What Donald Trump can teach us about employer branding

This week, we’re looking at Trump (and Hillary) and revealing what they can teach us about “employer branding”. The answer is quite a bit, but first, time for Employer Branding 101…

What is an employer brand?

It’s the perception that the marketplace, employees, stakeholders and candidates have of you as an employer. It’s the currency you have with the very best talent and ability you command to attract (and keep) them.

Employer branding is important because it helps define you as a certain type of employer or as offering a particular environment and set of values. It also helps you fill a potentially damaging void. As with any brand you need to be in full control of it; shaping perceptions and managing how you come across to the market, after all your current employer brand may be some way from the reality.

Plus, a solid brand brings the right candidates to you, saving you time, money and downtime.

Lessons on employer branding from Trump and Clinton

Right now, possibly the world’s biggest piece of employer branding is going on, the US Presidential Election. Trump and Clinton are running aggressive marketing campaigns to convince US voters that a country under them is the place to be.

The candidates (and their teams) spend every day telling voters why their America is more attractive, hoping to draw in those key demographics that secure victory. No different really to how a business should run an employer brand – in order to secure the best candidates, you get across relevant benefits and values to help you stay ahead of the competition.

Scarier than Halloween

Now, depending on what side of the fence you stand, I know the idea of applying Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton logic to your employer brand may be more terrifying than crawling through an air duct on the Nostromo, but they are getting a few things right about building a brand with a target audience. So, let’s take a look at 5 things the US Presidential campaign has taught us about employer branding:

1. Know what you stand for

This is important because the best candidates increasingly do and they’ll want to work within a business that doesn’t compromise their principles. Trump may have got a whole lot wrong but he has always had a distinct brand – no nonsense, tell it as it is straight-forwardness. This is the brand that got him a lot of support and a 50% chance of being the President of the United States.

For businesses, if you want to be the best, you need the best people and you need to give yourself an identity as an employer that they can identify and relate to. Think about the people you need and what they stand for, their lifestyles, passions and views, then ensure your employer brand fits. It’s easier to develop a strong, all-encompassing employer brand if you have an iron-clad set of values.

2. Appeal to your target audience

The whole point of employer branding is to attract personnel that will increase your profitability and performance against the competition. Hillary’s ‘Mirrors’ videos were aimed squarely at the highly prized women’s vote. And Trump with his ‘70% reduction in business regulations’ campaign, targeting the powerful corporate sector.

As an employer, you too must consider what will appeal to the people you’re after and be sure to shout about why you deliver it. Is it free gym membership? Flexible working hours? Free childcare? Open-plan work areas? The marketplace is full of competition and you’re up against not just direct competitors but those in different industries offering great benefits. Which brings us onto threat mitigation..

3. Out-campaign your competitors

Cruz who? There was a Bush in the running? Trump wiped the floor with his competition, forcing them both to throw in the towel in a period of 24 hours on 3rd/4th May 2016. And he did it because his brand appealed more to his target voters and he knew what they wanted to hear. You just need to do the same for candidates.

While we don’t want to put the competition out of business (after all, they keep you on your toes) you need to out-compete them for new employees, not just for customers. In fact, treating potential candidates like you would potential customers is a good mind-space to be in when developing your employer brand.

The same principles apply, research your target-market and give them a product (role) they want. Make sure it’s better than the competition’s in every way and ensure they never get buyer’s remorse by matching the reality of day-to-day work with the dream you sold.

4. Preach to the converted

One thing both Trump and Hillary have done well is engage their existing supporters, keeping them happy, motivated and spreading the word. This applies in recruitment too. When you give people reasons to believe that the decisions they’ve made and the principles they keep are the right ones, they’ll feel happy and more likely to stay. Equally as important, they’ll talk to others about your winning work environment.

A fundamental part of your employer brand should be ensuring your staff are cared for, happy and motivated. You don’t want to make existing employees feel like you’re one of those credit card companies that’s all about ‘new customers only’.

Make sure your benefits and perks are for all employees, after all they’re your best sales force. Think of the circles they mix in, the social media they’re on, the events they go to; your brightest and best can help bring more top talent through word of mouth. Plus, they know they’re the best and for these people, a competing offer is always on the table. It’s about retention and mitigating the risk of the investment you’ve made.

5. Get in the experts

Trump and Hillary have full time jobs, trying to be President. So, they hire Pollsters, media strategists, marketing execs, campaign managers, project managers and in Trump’s case, even a ‘Director of African American Outreach’, Miss Omarosa Manigault. Who interestingly served under the Clinton administration for a couple of years.

The point is, building a presidential brand needs the input of experts who know how to appeal to target markets and bring them on board. And, as in Miss Manigault’s case, it’s about your business having access to specialists that have been there and done it.

Similarly, when you’re building an employer brand, it’s important to have a team that understand you, the market and the wants and needs of candidates. When you have this support in your corner, your employer brand permeates all media, bringing in – and retaining – the very best people.

Now go build your employer brand

So, there it is, the US Presidential Election has all the ingredients of a powerful employer brand. We’ve linked to a few examples of solid employer branding below, thanks for reading and chip in using the comments below.

Oh, and remember, your competitors are sure as hell crafting their employer brand as you read this, if not already putting it out there, so get the right support and build yours ASAP.

This a guest post by Darren Timmins of Animate Search.The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

Author Bio

Darren Timmins is one of our Co-founders at Animate Search, an Enterprise Software & Emerging Technology Executive Search firm focussed on supporting companies in the attraction, retention and development of executive, commercial and revenue generating candidates. United with a vision to do things differently, our advanced resourcing solutions transform brands, grow businesses and make people’s lives better. Every day we use innovation to help our clients achieve their ambitions sooner and stronger, using our knowledge and talent management expertise to enable our customers to build world class teams.

When Do Employees Start Googling For Payroll?


Payroll mistakes are inevitable. However, when you receive your monthly payslip and realised that there is actually a mistake in your payslip – be it a wrong deduction or worse still, missing payment for that overtime hours which you have clocked in – what do you do then?

Surprisingly, instead of going back to the HR department, there is an increasing number of employees who try to a find a solution to the missing or wrong payment with a Google search?

The driving factor behind this trend is primarily due to the fact that most companies these days outsource their payroll. Most employees might argue that given their payroll is handled by an outsourced payroll provider, they can simply Google search their name and have them rectify the payroll mistake.

Well, it is not that easy.

Firstly, there are likely to be plenty of external payroll vendors with similar names or even the same name but are in fact two different companies based in two different countries. Give the wrong company a ring and the situation might get a little awkward and embarrassing.

Given that an employee actually tracks down the outsourced payroll vendor which the company engages, the payroll vendor might not be able to provide the solution. As much as an organisation is obliged to protect employees’ personal data, the payroll vendor is obliged to do the same. After all, there is really no point engaging a particular payroll vendor should the company’s personal payroll data be easily leaked to the public.

Moreover, under Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act, these payroll vendors have the right to not disclose any information to the employee over the phone or via email, regardless of the circumstances. Who knows, the person on the other end of the line could very well be a scammer himself, trying to get hold of your hard-earned wages.

What should the employee do then?

The first step should be to approach the payroll team within the organisation. After all, the team is likely to be made up of a bunch of payroll professionals who will certainly know where and how to rectify the payroll mistake. Additionally, they are likely to be the first point of contact with the outsourced payroll vendor and can easily resolve the payroll error.

However, if the company is relatively small and does not have a dedicated payroll team, then the next best step would be to approach the HR department. Likewise, they are likely to be able to get the payroll issue resolved with the external payroll vendor as well.

There are many reasons why payroll mistakes occur. However, if employees’ payslips perpetually contain errors, the company might consider engaging another payroll vendor instead. Moreover, employers or the HR department can play a part by communicating to employees. It can be in the form of guidance through a staff handbook, on the HR intranet or even at the bottom of the payslips, informing employees what are the steps should they find a mistake in their payslip. Simple guidance as such can go a long way in simplifying the payroll resolution process.

Related reading: 5 Top Tips for Onboarding New Hires

This a guest post by RenQun Huang of Gpayroll. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

About Gpayroll

Gpayroll is an easy to use, self-run online payroll service that will redefine and revolutionize the payroll industry. Its intuitive and automated system will help business owners focus on their core business without the hassle of managing payroll.

Four Vital Components for a Successful SEO Link Building Campaign


Organic traffic is often coveted as the unattainable elixir of the internet, reserved only for big name brands with large budgets to spend on digital marketing staff and content. While larger brands do have an advantage, you can achieve success even with a lower budget.

I have found that the following four components are necessary for a prolific link building campaign. If you adhere to them properly, you will be well on your way to increasing the traffic to your website.

1. Captivating Content

Arguably the most important component of a link building campaign, interesting content is a must. The best place to begin is by evaluating the top ranked content for your specific keyword on Google.

Analyze what aspects of the content made it noteworthy and appealing, including layout, visuals, data and statistics.

You can also use a content research tool like Buzzsumo to find content pieces that were heavily shared on social channels like Facebook or Twitter.

Another strategy that uncovers relevant topics with an audience is to search for your topic or niche on Quora. If you encounter questions that have a lot of engagement or are asked many times in different ways, you know you have stumbled upon a hot topic.

2. Innovative Outreach

To do outreach right, you first have to understand that you are attempting to connect with another human being sitting behind a computer screen.

Once you understand this basic principle, then you quickly realize that, like any other relationship, it all boils down to an exchange of value. What can you offer in return for a link to your website.

For example, you can offer access to your audience (blog readers or social media followers) or, of course, payment. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your target and think what they would find valuable.

3. Following Up

Your work doesn’t stop after your initial outreach attempt. In fact, most of your link building success will come from following up with potential targets multiple times.

At Market Boost we often see the most success after three, even four follow up emails.

Because internet marketers have flooded the market over time, website and business owners have become wary of any initial attempt for securing a link on their site.

The follow ups demonstrate that you are not a spam bot, rather a real human being that took the time to send out a personalized email specifically for their website.

Also, today’s digital world has led to shortened attention spans and forgetfulness all around. Simply keeping yourself top of mind will increase the likelihood of a positive response.

4. Calibration

More often than not, you are going to run into stumbling blocks as you attempt to run a link building campaign. Your content might not be as interesting or relevant as you thought and your targets might find it unlinkable.

Or, perhaps your outreach email isn’t getting opened or receiving many responses. With so many moving parts, you are almost certainly going to have to modify certain aspects of your campaign to achieve success.

Though you might encounter frustration and disappointment after approaching your first batch of targets, you should only be encouraged to make adjustments where needed.

If link building were as easy as sending out an email to a website, then everyone would be doing it and the rewards wouldn’t be there. Oh, and another thing, be patient. Building links takes time.

This a guest post by Daniel Smilansky, CEO of Market Boost. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Zegal may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Zegal here.

Author Bio

Daniel Smilansky is the owner and founder of Market Boost, an SEO Link Building Agency. His passion lies in building scalable companies with robust systems and processes that offer inordinate value.

Aside from building businesses, Daniel is interested in nutrition, tennis, fútbol and extended backpacking treks.

Should you franchise your business?

Now that you’ve stabilised business operations, what’s next? One common growth strategy among small businesses is franchising. This is an arrangement where you, the franchisor, sell the right to run the business at a designated location or market to a franchisee. While some business owners regard franchising as a method to expand to new markets, there are also many risks involved.

Here, we lay out the pros and cons of franchising to help you decide whether franchising is for you:

Benefits of franchising

1. Access capital to expand your business

As one of the most common barriers to expansion faced by small businesses is the lack of access to capital, franchising is an alternative form of capital acquisition that allows entrepreneurs to expand their business. The franchisee is the one that provides the capital required to open and operate the unit, and thereby takes on the risk of debt and the cost of equity. As the franchisor, you contribute relatively little capital into adding each location.   

At the same time, you are able to minimise the risk of growth. Your risk is largely limited to the capital you invest in developing your franchise company, which is frequently a lower amount than the cost of opening an additional company-owned location.

2. Extend your reach & build your brand

The world’s top franchises – think 7-Eleven, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts – are household names with instant brand recognition. As an entrepreneur, your most valuable asset is your brand. However, when thinking about which markets or locations to expand into, there will inevitably be some markets where your returns might be marginal. You also may lack knowledge of how to make your brand appeal to a market that you are unfamiliar with.

This is exactly the kind of knowledge and expertise that your franchisee should have. Franchising thus allows you to open and operate successfully in markets that are not high on your priority list for development. By giving a franchisee the ability to represent your brand, you can strengthen your reach and brand awareness.

3. Access better & more motivated talent

A common challenge that entrepreneurs face is finding and retaining good managers. Hired managers are at the end of the day only employees who may or may not have a genuine commitment to their jobs. Your manager could leave the next day or get poached by a competitor.

When you franchise your business, your franchisee in effect becomes not only a manager but also an owner. This will ensure that your franchisee invests long-term commitment into the business. What this means is better operational quality as your franchisees take pride in maintaining the location that they own, as well as greater innovation as franchisees have a stake in the business and are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their business.

Risks of franchising

1. Brand dilution

That’s right – one of the biggest advantages of franchising also carries one of the greatest risks. When you franchise, you are giving another entrepreneur the ability to represent the brand. Should your franchisee execute branding and marketing in a way that is inconsistent with your approach, this would give mixed signals to your customers and risk diluting, or even threatening, the strength of your brand.

It is thus important that you put in place clear guidelines for the use of all your brand assets. Ensure that your approval is sought before brand assets are used.

Related reading: 7 online marketing tips for your small business

2. Reduced control over how the business is run

As franchisees are independent businesses, you can’t dictate to your franchisees how they should run the business in the same way that you can with employees. You don’t have the same level of control over day-to-day operations and you are not responsible for hiring, training and monitoring employees. If an employee of the franchisee provides poor service to a customer, you may not have the right to fire the employee at will.

Also, as you build your network of franchisees, it can take longer to introduce a new range of products and/or services or a new marketing strategy within a franchise network than in your own chain of company-owned stores. In an arrangement where franchisors collect a percentage of sales as a royalty while franchisees make money from the outlet’s profits, an initiative that boosts sales but not profit may face resistance from franchisees. For instance, offering customers promotional coupons, which would boost sales but not profits, benefits the franchisor but not necessarily the franchisee.

3. Disagreements with your franchisee

The franchise model is one that contains inherent tensions. While franchisees are independent businesses and your franchisee can make decisions on the day-to-day operations of the business, you as the franchisor may still retain control over certain decisions relating to your brand. Given that the franchisor and franchisee each have control over certain aspects of the business, business decisions that benefit the franchisor and franchisee unequally may become contentious and cause friction between both parties.

This is why it is important to have in place a Franchise Agreement that delineates the respective rights and obligations of the franchisor and franchisee in the franchise arrangement. Under a Franchise Agreement, the franchisor’s obligations would be training and providing assistance, while those of the franchisee will be focused on the operation of the business (e.g. the use of intellectual property rights).

Have you ever franchised out your business?

Share with us in the comments below!

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