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Australia’s Annual Award Wage Increase – 2021 update

Latest update on Annual Award Wage Increase in Australia

Good news for international students! The Australian authorities have decided to go ahead with the Annual Award Wage Increase (by 1.75%) for group three awards (including retail and hospitality industries) on February 1, 2021. This was announced on February 24, 2021, via which the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) wants to ensure all people working in Australia (including international students) that when it comes to their rights and protections at workplace, they will be treated equally. 

The Fair work commission i.e., the prime authority to calculate Annual Wage Review, increases all National Award minimum wages by 2% to 3% from the first full pay cycle (on or after 01 July every year). This applies to all businesses and employees under the National Workplace Relations System covered by an Award regulated by the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Fair Work Act). Factually, it includes mostly private businesses in Australia.

This is the lowest amount to be paid to an employee of a business falling under the National Workplace Relations System, so to whom this award (also known as modern awards) applies are introduced under the Fair Work Act.

Note: This also applies to businesses covered under the Registered Agreement and approved by the Fair Work Commission. 

This annual increase applies to all employees who are under the category of Award-free mentioned in the National Employment Relations System and entitled to the National Minimum Wage and covered by Modern Award or an Enterprise Agreement.

Note: The increase doesn’t affect employees who are paid more than the new minimum wage post the increase has been implemented.


With this new wage increase, international students should be aware that there is support to:

1. Workplace entitlements and responsibilities

The section specifies rules which govern what employees receive at work, such as defining what are their working hours and the frequency of breaks, they can take. These office rules can be conveniently set out in different places – like employment contracts, awards, or registered agreements.

All employees’ minimum entitlements are mentioned in the National Employment Standards (NES) and awards. However, an employment contract or registered agreement may provide for other entitlements as well but, in any circumstances, it can’t be less than quoted in the NES or the applicable award. 

2. Check your pay; use FWO’s Pay and Conditions tool

The Pay Calculator is a tool used by the authority’s Infoline advisers to find answers to your enquiries related to allowances, base pay rates and penalty rates (including any overtime). This also ensures that the employees are paid right for the time they have worked, including their time spent on:

  • Trainings 

  • Team meetings

  • Opening/closing the business

  • Working on unreasonable trial shifts

Besides, it also helps understand more about pay obligations that include payslips, minimum wages and record book-keeping requirements and rules for any unpaid work.

3. Approach FWO for issues at workplace

This includes several many self-service tools including:

  • Pay and Conditions Tool: To calculate pay rates, leaves and notice period along with any redundancy entitlements, if any (also used by the advisors) 

  • My account: Helps you extract relevant workplace information and save pay rates and awards 

  • Access to free online courses: Various online courses to help you start a new job, manage performance or deal with difficult conversations

  • Guides and templates: There are many guides and templates available for record book-keeping and payslips

In addition, the FWO has many free resources to help students understand their workplace rights better, which also includes a guide to starting their new job and an online learning course. Moreover, you can learn about important information and various handy tips about starting their dream jobs in Australia. 

Updated on April 16, 2021

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