Wages are usually one of the biggest costs a business has. At the same time, they are the thing nearest and dearest to an employee’s heart. This means it is vital to get wage rates right, along with all the legal conditions attached to paying wages.

The Right Pay

Setting the right wage is a balance between meeting legal minimum requirements, and paying enough to attract and keep employees. However, there can be a fine line to ensure you're not paying too much that the profitability of your business is negatively impacted.

Minimum Wages & Allowances:

There are legally enforceable minimum wages and allowances for many jobs. These are found in modern awards issued by the Fair Work Commission. Awards also contain some minimum conditions of employment. Awards apply to certain industries and occupations.

The most common awards in the road transport industry are:

In addition, many companies have an enterprise agreement negotiated with employees specifically for their business. Awards and enterprise agreements can be found on the Fair Work Commission website.

An employer can be fined for paying less than an award. Payment of above award rates are common but employers still need to make sure they comply with other award requirements such as overtime and weekend penalty rates. Assuming an over award payment automatically buys out other award entitlements can be dangerous.

Award conditions can sometimes be changed legally through an individual flexibility arrangement (IFA) enterprise agreement. An IFA is made between an employer an individual employee. More information about IFAs can be found here. An enterprise agreement is made between an employer and some, or all, its workforce. More information about enterprise agreements can be found here.

Actual Pay Rates:

What other businesses are paying their employees can be hard to find unless you know they pay award rates or have an enterprise agreement. Some industries have remuneration surveys conducted. The Australian Bureau of Statistics also has information about average earnings in various industries, including road transport.

Payment Obligations

There are a variety of obligations for employers when it comes to how and when your employees are paid. There are also obligations around the records that you need to keep. These obligations are found in the Fair Work Act 2009 and applicable awards and enterprise agreements.

These include:

  • Payment to be in full (less any authorised deductions) and in money
  • Deductions must be agreed in writing by the employee and should only be for the benefit of the employee
  • Wages are to be paid at least monthly (although Awards and enterprise agreements often have weekly or fortnightly pay periods)
  • Records of pay must be kept for seven years
  • An employee must be given a payslip each pay period that contains:
    • employer’s and employee’s name
    • employer’s Australian Business Number (if applicable)
    • pay period
    • date of payment
    • gross and net pay
    • if the employee is paid an hourly rate:
      • the ordinary hourly rate
      • the number of hours worked at that rate
      • the total dollar amount of pay at that rate
    • any loadings (including casual loading), allowances, bonuses, incentive-based payments, penalty rates or other paid entitlements that can be separated out from an employee’s ordinary hourly rate. For example, a note could be included on a pay slip that the hourly rate incorporates the relevant casual loading.
    • the pay rate that applied on the last day of employment
    • any deductions from the employee's pay, including:
      • the amount and details of each deduction
      • the name, or name and number of the fund / account the deduction was paid into
    • any superannuation contributions paid for the employee’s benefit, including:
      • the amount of contributions made during the pay period (or the amount of contributions that need to be made)
      • the name and / or number of the superannuation fund the contributions were made to

More information about employee records and payslips can be found here.

NatRoad members can get help and information about employment issues from the NatRoad website or by calling 1800 272 144 or 02 6295 3000.