Earnings in Australia: a quick guide

Income Wages Australia

This guide sets out the definition of earnings, and provides responses to frequently asked questions relating to earnings data in Australia.

What are earnings?

According to the International Labour Organisation, earnings are remuneration (either in cash or in kind) paid [to] employees for time worked or paid leave. It excludes employers’ contributions to social security and pension schemes. This is broadly consistent with the earning definition used by the ABS in Australia, although wages and salaries in kind are excluded from its earnings measures. ‘Earnings’ is typically a gross concept, that is, it is calculated prior to tax.

‘Earnings’ is a narrower concept than ‘income’, in that income includes remuneration from a range of sources, including but not limited to employers.

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