The working conditions in Australia are obviously different from Europe. However, the main concern for future travellers or immigrants to Australia are the wages. We all know, the cost of living in Australia is quite high, but overall we earn a better wage there. Then it is important to note that there is a national minimum wage in Australia, but also minimum wages by profession. Here is everything you need to know about wages in Australia.
The minimum wage in Australia
Each industry is subject to a type of collective agreement, which is referred to as an award. It is this award that defines the minimum remuneration rate according to the level of qualification in each sector.
If the company does not belong to an award, the national minimum wage applies. 19.49 AUD/h (or £9.94/h since July 1, 2019). In the UK the minimum wage is £8.72/h, which corresponds to a difference of 13%.
The average wage in Australia
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average weekly salary for an Australian is AUD $1,658 (November 2019). Public sector workers are paid more than private-sector workers, and there are also wage differentials between men and women in Australia.
The average wage in Australia can vary depending on the economic activity in the various States. In the Australian capital state (ACT), you earn the best living, and in Tasmania the wages are the lowest. Here, the average salary per week for each:
In Australia, every company is obliged, whether large or small, to keep a register of the payroll of its employees. This ensures that you receive your wages and associated rights in Australia. These payslips may be available in electronic form or on paper.
The Australian payroll is much easier to read and understand than other payrolls:
- the name of the employer (+ his business number) and the employee
- the payroll period
- the billing date
- Gross and net wages
- if the employee is paid by the hour:
- the regular hourly rate
- the number of working hours at this Rate
- the total amount of compensation in dollars at this rate
- Increases, Allowances, Bonuses
- Pension contributions (Superannuation):
- Amount and details of the Fund for which contributions have been paid
As an employee, you have the right to request your payslip. Your employer is against the law if he doesn’t give you a statement. He must give it to you at the latest one working day after the payday, even if you are on holidays.
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How is your wage paid?
In Australia, wages can be paid in cash, by check, by money order to the employee, or mostly by bank transfer. It is the award to which the company belongs that defines the payment rules (frequency, minimum wage, etc.).
The employee must be paid at least once a month. In Australia, however, it is common to receive weekly or fortnightly wages.
Be aware that as an employee you should receive money for your work. You cannot be paid “in-kind” (for example with food). However, if your employer offers you benefits in-kind, this should not replace your salary. It can be an addition to your financial compensation.
Also, note that you have to be paid a wage for the time spent:
- In training
- during team meetings
- to open and close the business
- to do trials, especially if you are asked to do several
Allowances and wage increase
In each industry, wage increases and allowances may be granted to you. The rules are defined by the Award to which the company belongs.
With the FairWork website, you can estimate the minimum wage that you should receive in your industry.
For example, if you have an employment contract for a casual job, your hourly rate of pay will be increased compared to a full-time or part-time job. Your wage will be higher to compensate for the fact that your job is not fixed and that you have no holidays.
Beyond that, you will benefit from a wage increase (penalty rate) when you work:
- On the weekend
- Public Holidays
- During overtime
- On late-night shifts
- Or, if you work early in the morning.
You can also receive allowances, additional payments if you are an employee who:
- Performs specific tasks or has a certain ability
- Use your own tools/ work materials
- working under unpleasant or hazardous conditions
This compensation can also include benefits in kind such as:
- Uniforms and special clothing
- Tools and equipment
- Travel and preferential prices
- Car and phone
- First aid Course
Freelance, by definition, is independent. He, therefore, does not receive a salary from an employer because he is his own employer. On the other hand, he has clients who pay him for a service rendered. This is how he gets paid. Most of the time, he is paid by the task or by the time spent.
If we look at the hourly rate of a freelancer, it will be much higher than the hourly rate of an employee for the same job. Indeed, the remuneration of a freelancer corresponds to a gross salary. The freelancer will have to deduct from the sum received by the client, a share for taxes, superannuation, his operating costs (rent, insurance, internet, telephone, computer …), his holidays and the time spent managing his activity (administrative, commercial, etc.).
If you want to embark on a freelance activity, you will need to take into account the sum of these costs to calculate the turnover you are targeting, and thus calculate your rates.
If you want to work as a freelancer in Australia, you must have an ABN (Australian Business Number) and open a bank account. And just like an employee, you need a TFN for your income tax.
In Australia, income taxes are withheld at the source. If you are employed, the wage paid to you is already taxed. In fact, it is your employer who pays taxes on your salary directly to the state. To do this, you must submit your tax number, the TFN (Tax File Number). You should request this number from Australian Tax Services (ATO) when you arrive in Australia.
In Australia, the tax rate on your wage depends on your tax status and your annual salary class. There are 3 main tax classes:
Tax residents: You are considered a tax resident as soon as you have your main residence or if you live in the country for more than 6 months a year at the same address.
|Taxable Salary Class||Tax rate|
|0 – $18,200||0|
|$18,201 – $37,000||19% $18,200|
|$37,001 – $90,000||$3,572 + 32,50% over $37,000|
|$90,001 – $180,000||$20,797 + 37% over $87,000|
|$180,001 and above||$54,097 + 45% over $180,000|
Non-taxable residents: If you don’t work enough in Australia to qualify as a tax resident, the tax rate on your Australian wage will be higher than for a tax resident.
|Taxable Salary Class||Tax rate|
|0 – $90,000||To 32.5% from 1 Dollar|
|$90,001 – $180,000||$29,250 + 37% over $90,000|
|$180,001 and above||$62,550 + 45% over $180,000|
WHV maker: You have a special tax status. Based on your visa, the Australian government believes that you do not intend to stay in Australia. Your wage will then be taxed more compared to a tax resident.
|Taxable Salary Class||Tax rate|
|0 – $35,000||15%|
|$37,001 – $90,000||$5,550 + 32,5% above $37,000|
|$90,001 – $180,000||$22,775 + 37% over $90,000|
|$180,001 and||$56,075 + 45% over $180,000|
The superannuation pension system
The pension (or “super”) corresponds to an old-age pension. It is a mandatory system to invest at least 9.5% of your wage in a fund to meet your retired financial needs. Your employer pays your superannuation into a special account. The superannuation is, therefore, an indirect salary, it is part of your total remuneration and is added to the salary paid to you.
During a recruitment proposal, your employer may have to indicate that you will receive a wage + superannuation + bonus (if applicable).
You will get back the amount paid into your superannuation account when you retire or when you leave the country if you have a temporary visa. If you leave Australia, you will be taxed 65% of the amount you withdraw from your Australian superannuation account. So don’t be surprised!
At the end of the financial year (July 1st to June 30th) you have to report your income. This declaration is called a tax return.
Keep all payslips to make your statement. You can get back part of the taxes paid by your employer!
For example, you can reclaim the healthcare contribution Tax (Medicare Levy) if you are not covered by Medicare.
Examples of wages in Australia
Most backpacker jobs are paid at between $20 and $25 an hour, and even more on weekends and holidays. The salary depends heavily on the employer and your contractual and geographical situation. In any case, make sure that you get the minimum wage for your award.
Backpacker Jobs and Salaries
What jobs can you get in Australia and for what salary? To give you authentic information, we asked other backpackers.
Here are some examples of salary ranges by job type. Salaries vary widely based on experience and geographic location in Australia. If you are looking for work, find out about the wages offered in the state you are targeting in Australia.
|Teacher||$70,000 - $110,000|
|Early childhood teacher||$60,000 - $90,000|
|Nurse||$45,000 – $70,000|
|Sales Manager||$55,000 – $80,000|
|Marketing coordinator||$55,000 – $75,000|
|Graphic designer||$65,000 - $90,000|
|Web designer||$80,000 - $110,000|
|Data scientist||$115,000 – $150,000|
|Business Analyst||$85,000 – $120,000|
|IT Project Manager||$100,000 – $150,000|
|Junior Architect||$50,000$ – $80,000|
|Construction project Manager||$90,000 - $130,000|
|Environmental engineer||$65,000 – $150,000|
|Civil engineer||$60,000 - $140,000|
|Real estate agent||$50,000 - $90,000|
|Production Manager||$75,000 - $130,000|
The best paid jobs in Australia
Among the highest-paid Australian employees are those working in the mining industry, with an average annual income ranging from $90,000 to $160,000 for an engineer, up to $220,000 for a manager.
Paradoxically, the renewable energy sector also offers very good salaries with average annual salaries ranging from $100,000 to $180,000 for engineers, up to $200,000 for managers and $300,000 for project managers.
In general, the construction and energy sectors are high-wage sectors with wages of up to $300,000.
The IT industry also pays skilled workers very well, with salaries of up to $200,000 for a manager and $300,000 for a technical director.
Finally, the finance sector can offer very attractive salaries also reaching $300,000 for management positions.