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Median Wage Increase Paused but Are You Getting Requests for Pay Rise?

12 March 2024

Are your migrant employees asking for a payrise every year to keep up with median wage?

Are you trying to determine if this really is an immigration requirement?

Must you increase their salary annually?

Even though the median wage increase is PAUSED for Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV), we have been contacted by numerous businesses in the last few weeks with such questions.

If you are wondering whether you need to give your migrant staff wage hikes, the short answer is no, you do not NEED to, but the circumstances of your employee may warrant that you do. As for the immigration rules, an employer is not obligated to give a pay rise during the currency (validity) of an AEWV. But they must continue paying the wage listed on the work visa. 

So what’s changed? Let’s see:

Generally, the median wage increased from $29.66/hour to $31.61/hour on 28 Feb 2024. However, the increase was only adopted for residence categories indexed (influenced) by median wage and not for any visas related to the AEWV scheme (job checks, AEWVs and their partners’ visas). 

The residence categories linked to median wage are:

  • Skilled Migrant Category
  • Parent Category
  • Green List Straight to Residence
  • Work to Residence Visa
  • Transport workers (excluding Bus Drivers) applying for the Transport Work to Residence Visa.

Read more about this change here.

So what should an employer do?

When the question of a pay rise comes up in an immigration and median wage context, whether you offer your employees a pay rise will depend on 2 key factors:

  • Are they applying for residence?
  • Under which category?

While many residence categories have a requirement for the median wage to be earned at all times for work experience to be counted, there are caveats:

  • Skilled work experience starts counting from whenever an employee starts earning the median wage.
  • It will not stop counting if the median wage increases but the employee's role does not change and they stay on at least the same wage rate as before (the one printed on their visa if they are on an employer-specific visa).
  • If they start a new role (within the same company or a different one), then they must be paid the median wage in effect at the time.

In a nutshell, the demand an employee will place on an employer for a wage hike (from purely an immigration perspective) will be dictated by the category under which they are wanting to file residency.

As an employer, your decision to give your employee a wage hike also rests on your willingness to support their pathway to residence. For example, some IT roles on the Green List Straight to Residence pathway have specific remuneration requirements.

Each category of residence comes with its own rules and requirements. Different occupations under the AEWV scheme also have their own policies.

The bottom line is your decision to offer a pay rise if your migrant employee demands it, requires an assessment of many factors against the visa policies in play (for their specific situation) and for that, several questions need to be asked and a proper assessment to be made. 

If your business is trying to make sense of immigration complexities, reach out to us to get matters simplified.

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