New employment related thresholds

03 July 2017

A number of employment related financial thresholds are indexed annually each 1 July. Below is a summary of some important changes effective 1 July 2017.

Why is the high income threshold important?

For employees covered by a modern award, where the employer can guarantee they will earn more than the high income threshold, the employer and employee can enter into a guarantee of annual earnings, excluding that employee from modern award coverage. However, the employee can still make an unfair dismissal claim.Employees who earn more than the high income threshold and who are not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement are not able to access the unfair dismissal jurisdiction. An unfair dismissal claim is the most common form of challenge to a termination of employment.

What is included in the high income threshold?

An employee’s earnings include:

  • Wages;
  • Money that is paid on their behalf (eg: superannuation top ups or salary sacrifice); and
  • The agreed value of non-monetary benefits (eg: laptop or mobile phone).

An employee’s earnings do not include:

  • Payments the amount of which cannot be determined in advance (eg: commissions, bonuses or overtime unless guaranteed);
  • Reimbursements; and
  • Superannuation contributions that the employer is required to make.
2016/2017 financial year 2017/2018 financial year
$138,900 $142,000

The compensation limit for unfair dismissal claims increases to $71,000.

National Minimum Wage (before statutory superannuation)

The national minimum wage is the minimum weekly wage payable to employees not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement.

For modern award covered employees, minimum wages are increased by 3.3% rounded to the nearest 10 cents.

2016/2017 financial year 2017/2018 financial year
$672.70 per week or $17.70 per hour $694.90 per week or $18.29 per hour
Tax free threshold for “genuine redundancy” payments¬†

Where the redundancy of an employee is treated by the Australian Tax Office as a ‘genuine redundancy’ under section 83-175 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, certain tax-free thresholds will apply to the payment (see Taxation Ruling TR 2009/2).

2016/2017 financial year 2017/2018 financial year
First $9,936 tax free and $4,969 tax free for each completed year of service First $10,155 tax free and $5,078 tax free for each completed year of service
Superannuation – maximum contribution base

For the 2017/2018 financial year, employers must pay into each eligible employee’s superannuation account a minimum of 9.50% of the employee’s ordinary time earnings up to the ‘maximum contribution base’, the same percentage contribution as was payable in the 2016/2017 year.

2016/2017 financial year 2017/2018 financial year
$51,620 per quarter $52,760 per quarter
Superannuation – concession contribution cap

Employers make concessional contributions (e.g. SG contributions and salary sacrifice contributions) on behalf of their eligible employees. Concessional contributions up to the cap are generally taxed at 15% whereas contributions in excess of the cap can be included as assessable income and taxed at the employee’s marginal rate of income tax where the individual makes an election to do so. The employee will also be liable for the excess concessional contributions charge in these circumstances.

2016/2017 financial year 2017/2018 financial year
Employees under age of 49 concessional contribution cap $30,000 per annum.

Employees aged 49 or over conessional contribution cap $35,000 per annum.

Employees concessional contribution cap $25,000 per annum.

If you would like more information in relation to any of the new employment related thresholds and in particular how to determine with certainty whether an employee’s earnings exceed the high income threshold and thus whether he or she can access the unfair dismissal jurisdiction please contact one of our team members below.

This article was written by Chris Egan, Partner,  Mathew Reiman, Solicitor and Lachlan Steinfort, Trainee Solicitor.

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