Fast-food and retail workers will receive a pay rise from today, after the Fair Work Commission announced a 1.75% increase in award wages.
The increase in minimum wages was set to take place in July last year, however, the Fair Work Commission delayed the rise due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on some industries, including retail and hospitality.
The retail and fast-food award wage is now $21.78 an hour.
The Fair Work Commission’s decision to freeze the 1.75% increase for retail and hospitality workers was met with backlash from both the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, which argued that women and young people make up the majority of the workforce and would be disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Gerard Dwyer, national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, said the seven-month delay in the minimum wage increase resulted in a decline in living standards for thousands of retail workers, who each lost $426 due to the Fair Work Commission’s decision.
“To many in the community this may seem like a small amount, but for lower-paid workers living from week-to-week, it can make a vital difference in making ends meet,” Dwyer said in a statement.
“In retail terms, their living standards were cut.”
The increase in the minimum wage was the outcome of the Fair Work Commission’s yearly review of the national minimum wage. Last year’s review resulted in a rise of 1.75% across all industry awards, however, the increase was staggered across three rounds because of the disruption caused by COVID-19.
The first industries to have received the increase in award wages in July last year were health care and education. The second group, which included food and materials manufacturing, received the rise from November, and the final round, including retail and hospitality, receive the pay increase from February 1, 2021.
The relevant awards include the Registered and Licensed Clubs Award, the Restaurant Industry Award, the Hospitality Industry (General) Award, the Fast Food Industry Award and the General Retail Industry Award.
Other services-based industries, such as hair, beauty and fitness, will also receive an increase in the award wage from today.