Criticism from retail associations.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) will increase the national minimum wage by 3.5% to $719.20 per week or $18.93 per hour, effective 1 July, 2018. The General Retail Industry Award (GRIA) will increase to $789.90 per week or $20.79 per hour for full-time and part-time employees and $25.98 per hour for casuals.

The National Retail Association (NRA) has slammed the decision with CEO Dominique Lamb saying the rise will hurt many mum-and-dad small business retailers, and force them to wind back staff hours.

“The decision by the Fair Work Commission is disappointing considering the difficult retail environment at present,” Lamb said. “Many retailers are confronting extraordinarily challenging trading conditions, and they are crying out for help.”

Lamb said it is the biggest increase in the minimum wage in recent memory and the NRA is concerned that it will result in fewer jobs in retail.

“Mum-and-dad small business owners are the engine room of the Australian economy and are already having to grapple with soaring electricity costs and increased wholesale prices. While this decision is just numbers on a page to the unions and the Fair Work Commission, it is real money out of their pockets – in some cases tens of thousands of dollars per year.

“With the current state of Australian retail, they will not have the option to increase prices. This extra money can only come from cutting staff hours in many cases.”

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is concerned the increase will stifle jobs growth within the retail sector.

Executive director, Russell Zimmerman said Australian retailers are already facing an unsteady trading environment and this increase will be detrimental to the growth and stability of the Australian retail industry.

“With retailers already struggling to keep their heads above water, today’s 3.5% minimum wage increase will stifle retail growth and delay staff employment across the sector.”

As the retail industry is volatile at present, the ARA sought a minimum wage increase of 1.9% to increase staff employment by 3.5% over the next 12 months.

“The ARA are passionate about maintaining a sustainable wage growth and would like to see retailers given the chance to not only invest in their business, but invest in employment to promote retail as a vibrant career choice for all Australians,” Zimmerman said.

“The minimum wage increase is well above inflation, putting the brakes on employment and innovation throughout the industry, which is detrimental for the retail sector.”