Australia's Living Wage
posted at 7/30/2013 10:03 AM EDT
Unemployment rate = 5.6%
National minimum wage for adults
Currently the full-time minimum wage is $16.37 per hour or $622.20 per week. This means that most employees in the national system shouldn't get less than this.
Casuals covered by the national minimum wage get an extra 24% ($20.30 per hour).
National minimum wages for apprentices, juniors & trainees
There are special national minimum wages for trainees, apprentices and juniors who don’t have an award or agreement. From 1 July 2013 these are:
Apprentices who aren’t covered by an award or agreement are entitled to the relevant rates in the Miscellaneous Award 2010.
Only about 2 percent of Australians, however, are covered by the minimum wage. The rest are covered by industry-wide agreements that are negotiated by the government on behalf of workers. The minimum wage in most of these agreements (including, for example, for adult fast food workers) is $17.03 an hour.
But wait, there's more: full-time permanent employees in Australia, from toilet cleaners to chief executives, get at least ten sick days, 20 vacation days and (depending on the state) ten or more paid holidays every year. Everyone. All over Australia.
Of course, there is a catch. Part-time and temp workers don't get these benefits. Instead, they get paid an extra 20 percent to 25 percent in cash compensation. As a result, a part-time, entry-level adult fast food worker in Australia makes a minimum of $21.25 an hour. Oh, plus health insurance. That's universal in Australia.
Of course, exchange rates go up and down over time. But at $21.25 Australian dollars an hour, it doesn't matter what exchange rate you use or how you adjust for cost of living. The simple fact is that an Australian entry-level fast food worker makes more than the average American worker. An absolute majority of Americans would increase their income if they moved to Australia and got fast food jobs.
All Australian workers are entitled to benefits that are extended only to the richest Americans: parental leave, caregiver's leave, extra vacation for shift workers etc. And when Australians are called for jury duty, their employers must give them the time off - and must make up the difference in pay between the jury duty rate and their normal pay rate. In short, working-class Australians get the same kinds of benefits as investment bankers and top corporate lawyers.
Then, there's the final benefit that sets Australia (and New Zealand) apart from the rest of the world: long service leave. People don't have to work their entire careers without a break. After their first ten years with a company, they get two months off (with pay). It's another month every five years after that.
In other words, if you go to work in fast food straight out of high school, you can take a two-month paid honeymoon when you get married in your late twenties - and still have your regular four weeks vacation time to spend with the family.