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Minimum wage increases today

Published 01 Apr 2020

Despite the current COVID-19 situation and the Government conceding the fact that paying everyone 100% of normal wages might currently be unaffordable, the fact remains that people who can still work must be paid at least the minimum wage for the work they do.

This means employees - regardless of whether they are working from home, or from premises to do essential work—must be paid at least the new minimum wage for each hour they work.

However, employers may be affected by the lockdown requirements and other impacts of COVID-19 and some may not be able to action the increase immediately, while also complying with lockdown requirements. If a business can’t process the increase, it should be backdated when they can.

If employers cannot process the raise in time, we encourage them to openly and honestly communicate with their employees affected.
Employers should process the increase as soon as they are able to do so safely and in compliance with any COVID-19 restrictions currently in place. Employers will need to pay employees back for any hours that were worked, but for which the required pay rate could not be processed at the time.

Many businesses will be accessing the Government’s Wage Subsidy Scheme, which supports employers and their staff to maintain employment arrangements and guarantee some income for affected staff, even if the employee is unable to work during this period.
The Government requires businesses to retain the workers they receive the subsidy for, and if possible to pay at least 80% of their pre-COVID-19 income.  For workers on the minimum wage, this means they could receive less pay than they previously did, even when the minimum wage has increased.  This is because there is no requirement for employers to pay the minimum wage, if no work is being performed.