Issue 13 2021 - Annual wage review: Minimum wages to increase by 2.5%

Updated: Jun 28

The Fair Work Commission has today handed down its Annual Wage Review Decision under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).[1] The National Minimum Wage and Award wages will be increased by 2.5%. The increase is effective at various dates, depending on the particular award, as set out in this note.


Increases to Modern Awards and Transitional Instruments

The Commission has adopted a uniform percentage increase of 2.5%.[2] This increase will be applied to the minimum rates for each award level. This increase will apply to all modern awards, and any transitional instruments that are still in operation. If any of your employees are covered by a copied State instrument - because of a transfer of business from a former state public sector employer - you will need specific advice about how the decision affects that instrument, as there are special provisions.

Weekly wages in Modern Awards will be rounded to the nearest 10 cents. To obtain an hourly rate, you must use the new weekly (rounded) rate and divide by 38, unless the award specifies another method.

National Minimum Wage

The national minimum wage will be increased to $20.33 per hour, or $772.60 per week.[3] This rate has been calculated on the basis of a 38-hour week for a full-time employee. The national minimum wage order will also contain specific provisions for award/agreement free employees:[4]

  • with a disability;

  • who are junior employees; or

  • apprentices and employees to whom training arrangements apply.

The casual loading has been maintained at 25% for award/agreement free employees and in the modern awards.[5]

Operative Date of Increase

The increase to the national minimum wage and award rates has effect on 1 July 2021, except for the following modern awards.

A. Increases that come into effect on 1 November 2021:[6]

  • Air Pilots Award 2020

  • Aircraft Cabin Crew Award 2020

  • Airline Operations – Ground Staff Award 2020

  • Airport Employees Award 2020

  • Airservices Australia Enterprise Award 2016

  • Alpine Resorts Award 2020

  • Amusement, Events and Recreation Award 200

  • Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award 2020

  • Fitness Industry Award 2020

  • Hair and Beauty Award 2010

  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2020

  • Live Performance Award 2020

  • Mannequins and Models Award 2020

  • Marine Tourism and Charter Vessels Award 2020

  • Nursery Award 2020

  • Racing Clubs Events Award 2020

  • Racing Industry Ground Maintenance Award 2020

  • Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2020

  • Restaurant Industry Award 2020

  • Sporting Organisations Award 2020

  • Travelling Shows Award 2020

  • Wine Industry Award 2020

B. The wage increase will come into effect for the General Retail Industry Award 2020 on 1 September 2021.[7]

Effect of Decision

These changes affect the minimum rates only. If you are paying an over-award rate, you may be able to absorb the increase into any over award payments. We recommend that you seek advice before deciding to absorb the increase.

The increase may also affect employers covered by enterprise agreements or transitional agreements if they are expressly linked to an Award rate or Fair Work Commission increases, or where the minimum base rate of pay in the agreement falls below the equivalent minimum base rate in the Award. Again, we recommend that you seek advice about your obligations.

Require further information/assistance?

This EMA Note is not comprehensive advice about your situation and does not cover all your obligations. If you require further information or advice, please contact your Consultant.


[1]Annual Wage Review 2020–2021 [2021] FWCFB 3500 (“Decision”). A summary decision can be viewed at [2021] FWCFB 3501. [2] Decision [306]. [3] Decision [305(a)]. [4] Decision [305(b)–(d)]. [5] Decision [305(e)]. [6] Decision [298]. [7] Decision [299].