Postponement of minimum wage increase only option

Mar 30, 2020

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says that while it may be politically difficult for Government to halt the planned increase it’s the right signal to send to under stress employers and the economy in general.

The current schedule of minimum wage increases is 20 per cent over a three-year time period, with the second of those increases - taking the minimum from $17.70 to $18.90 - due on April 1.

"We’re taking up to 1500 calls and emails daily from employers desperately trying to keep their staff, and even just keep their doors open, while facing the prospect of very little or no revenue during lockdown," says Mr O’Riley.

"In some cases they face watching years and even decades of work in building up their businesses come to nothing over the next month, and beyond."

In particular many of those in the tourism, accommodation and hospitality sectors who are high users of minimum wage labour, now have zero revenue with little prospect of recovering quickly to anything like normal," he says.

Mr O’Riley says the EMA understands that this is a key policy platform for the Government, but a minimum wage increase of this scale at such a critical time just does not make sense.

"All of the calls we’re taking are on managing the Government’s extensive subsidy programme to help staff through the current crisis and keep the business in some sort of shape to take advantage of a recovery."

He suggests a delay of six to nine months on the implementation of the increase would be more constructive.

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