Minimum pay rise will hurt SMEs

Employees on the minimum wage will now receive an extra $21.66 a week, but the rise allowed by the Fair Pay Commission, slightly less than the 4.3 percent requested by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, may be too much for SMEs already struggling with rising interest rates and a downturn in business.

Richard Evans, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, says the rise will affect thousands of single store operators. “They'll either shed staff, pass it on to the consumer or indeed close,” he said. “Retail is the barometer of the economy and what's happening now in retail is probably going to happen to the rest of the economy in about six months time."

Council of Small Business of Australia CEO Tony Steven saw the rise as a “reasonable amount” but didn’t see much relief in the medium term. “The trick here is that any wage rise like this which is not attributable to productivity increases simply perpetuates the problem of inflation, and you can be sure that the Reserve Bank of Australia has noted that there is still a problem."

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