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The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is responsible for reviewing and setting minimum wages for employees in the national workplace relations system.Each financial year the FWC's Expert Panel conducts an annual wage review and issues a decision and national minimum wage order for employees not covered by an award or agreement.

This is ACOSS's submission to the 2018–19 minimum wage review. ACOSS is the peak body of the community services and welfare sector and a national voice for the needs of people affected by poverty and inequality.

The submission's recommendations include:

  • The FWC should increase real minimum wages substantially in order to significantly reduce the gap between them and median pay levels.
  • Decisions on the level of minimum wages should be informed by benchmark estimates of the cost of attaining a ‘decent basic living standard’ for a single adult according to contemporary Australian standards.
  • A reasonable benchmark for the adequacy of minimum wages in comparison with wages across the community would be 60% of the fulltime median wage.
  • The combined effect of the minimum wage and family payments on the extent of poverty among families, including recent significant cuts in family payments, should also be expressly considered in setting minimum wages.
  • The FWC should continue to commission research and hold consultations with stakeholders to develop and update a robust set of indicators of a minimum adequate living standard for people in low paid work. It should regularly assess the living standards of individuals and households receiving minimum wages against median household disposable incomes, poverty lines, budget standards and deprivation indicators, including financial stress indicators.
  • Minimum wage rates for young people, apprentices and trainees, and people with disability under the Supported Wage System, should continue to be increased in line with the rise in the National Minimum Wage.
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