Minimum wage in Australia? What you need to know

TransferWise
18.07.18
5 minute read

Australia is a place of abundant sunshine and stunning natural scenery. If you love being outside, Australia might be the perfect home for you. The Land Down Under, however, has the 12th highest cost of living in the world. Can you live in Australia on its minimum wage? Read on to learn what you need to know about the minimum wage in Australia.

What’s the minimum wage in Australia?

Australia’s minimum wage is currently $18.29 per hour or $694.90 per 38 hour week (before tax).

Who determines minimum wages? When was the last increase?

In Australia, the minimum wage is determined by the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) Expert Panel, which reviews minimum wages received by employees in the national workplace relations system each year. The review takes several things into consideration. It will look at written submissions from people and organizations, saying whether they think the minimum wage should change or stay the same. The panel will also commission research and consult economics experts before making a decision. After doing its review, the panel releases a national minimum wage order, and the new minimum wage goes into effect on 1 July each year.

Australia’s minimum wage was most recently raised on 1 July, 2017, when it was increased from

$17.70 per hour to $18.29 per hour.

Does the minimum wage vary depending on the region in Australia?

No, Australia does not have different minimum wages for its different states. There’s one national minimum wage that applies to the entire country.

Does the minimum wage differ by age in Australia?

Australia does have different minimum wages for underage workers or any workers who are under 21 years of age, in some industries. Generally, depending on their age, underage workers will be paid a percentage of the adult pay rate; for example, a 17-year-old retail worker in Australia is entitled to 60 percent of the adult minimum wage. One the day that retail worker turns 18, he or she becomes entitled to 70 percent of the adult minimum wage. The worker would be entitled to an additional 10 percent increase on each birthday until he or she turns 21, which is considered of age in Australia, and would then be entitled to the full adult minimum wage.

In some industries, however, junior wages don’t apply. Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman provides a calculator on its website for seeing what minimum wages underage workers are entitled to, depending on the industry and their age.

Is there a different minimum wage for apprenticeships or internships?

Apprentices and trainees can be paid a different rate than the minimum wage in Australia, but only if they have a formal training contract with their employer. These rates vary depending on the age of the apprentice or intern, whether he or she is still in school at the time of the apprenticeship or internship, and what industry the work is being done in. Fair Work Australia provides a pay calculator on its website that can help determine what wages apprentices and interns are entitled to.

Historically, how much has the minimum wage changed over time?

Australia has had some form of minimum wage since the 1890s when industries started setting their own minimum wages following worker protests over poor working conditions. The minimums set at the time varied, but were as little as three shillings per day, with no limit to how many hours were worked in a day. Australia’s current Fair Wage Act, which introduced a panel to review and decide on increases to the minimum wage each year, was passed in 2009. Since then, the panel has approved increases of 2-4 percent to the minimum wage each year.

What’s the minimum per month you need to make to qualify for national healthcare or health insurance?

All citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand qualify for national healthcare, regardless of their income. However, public healthcare in Australia doesn’t cover the cost of treatment at private hospitals, so many residents purchase supplemental private healthcare plans. The cost for these plans is set by the companies that provide them.

What’s the living wage in Australia? How much can you really get by on?

Australia is the 12th most expensive country in the world to live in. The overall cost of living is 9 percent higher than in the US, but 10 percent cheaper than London. Things like groceries and restaurant meals can be very pricey in Australia, but the country’s minimum wage is also higher than in many other places. Australia boasts salaries 25 percent higher than their British counterparts, and Australia has a higher minimum wage than both the UK and the US.

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Compared to other countries, is the minimum wage in Australia good?

Whether the minimum wage is “good” really depends on the cost of living in any given country. But here’s how Australia’s minimum wage compares to other parts of the world.

CountryMinimum Wage (in US dollars)
Australia$508.88 per week
Canada$7.93 - $10.68 per hour
Germany$1,769.80 per month
United States$7.25 per hour
United Kingdom$9.93 per hour
NorwayNo legal minimum wage
France$1,748.85 per month
SingaporeNo legal minimum wage
Dubai (UAE)No legal minimum wage
Belgium$1,846.11 per month

Think you can make a living in Australia? With all this information about the minimum wage, you’re ready to decide for yourself whether Australia is the right future home for you. Good luck with your move!

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