Minimum entitlements for wages and conditions of employment are most often found in enterprise agreements or modern awards. Employers must provide their employees with at least their minimum entitlements.

Some employees are not covered by an award or an enterprise agreement. For these employees there is a National Employment Standard, including a set minimum wage, that provides a safety net of conditions that cannot be overridden by the terms of enterprise agreements or awards.

There are two main systems operating in South Australia that provides wage protection for employees not covered by an award or enterprise agreement:

  • the national system covers most of the private sector
  • the state system covers South Australian public and local government sectors as well as prescribed state government business enterprises.

Private sector (National system)

The federal minimum wage system covers the majority private sector workplaces in Australia such as:

  • non-Government businesses
  • non-Council workers
  • non‑government community services sector
  • private schools
  • universities.

Minimum wages covered under the National system are determined by the Fair Work Commission through its Annual Wage Review (AWR). The AWR decision increases minimum wage rates for employees who are not covered by an award or agreement.

Employers and their workers covered by this system can check their obligations and entitlements via the Fair Work Ombudsman website, which includes a pay calculator and a list of awards, or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

Minimum wage rates are also set for:

SA public and local government sectors (State system)

The majority of State system employees (South Australian public and local government sectors as well as prescribed state government business enterprises) have wages and conditions determined by enterprise agreements or an industrial award. However, some workers are still reliant on minimum wage entitlements.

The South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) fixes minimum wages (including weekly wages, hourly rates, aged-based grades) each year through the State Wage Case.

On 27 September 2020, SAET adopted the Fair Work Commission’s Annual Wage Review decision and will increase the minimum wage rates by 1.75%. As at 29 January 2021, SAET is yet to issue the relevant declarations and orders to bring this increase into effect.

State system (SA public and local government sectors) minimum wages (as at 1 July 2019)
Worker age Full-time worker
Weekly (38 hours)
Part-time worker
Hourly
Casual worker
Hourly
Adult (21 years and over) $732.30 $19.27 $24.09
20 $659.10 $17.34 $21.68
19 $585.80 $15.42 $19.27
18 $512.60 $13.49 $16.86
17 $439.40 $11.56 $14.45
Under 17 $366.20 $9.64 $12.05
Junior apprentice (first year) $307.60   
Junior apprentice (second year) $402.80   
Junior apprentice (third year) $549.20   
Junior apprentice (fourth year) $644.40   
Adult apprentice (21 years and over) $732.30   

These rates do not apply to workers under a contract of employment or covered by a State Award, unless their current wage rates are lower, in which case the higher rate of the minimum wage must be paid.

Minimum working age

There is no minimum working age in South Australia.

If you are thinking of employing a young worker be aware that:

  • a child of compulsory school age (between 6 and 16 years of age) cannot be employed during the hours that they are required to attend school or to participate in an approved learning program (as the case requires)
  • a child may not work at a time, such as late at night or early in the morning, that is likely to render them unfit to attend school or obtain the proper benefit from attendance.

Some awards and agreements or other laws, such as those relating to liquor licencing and mining, can contain provisions that prohibit or restrict the duties for those under a certain age.

Students aged 15 and 16 can apply for a permanent exemption from school for employment reasons. Any exemption requests should be discussed with the school principal.

Further information

Industrial relations system

Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

Education and Children’s Services Act 2019 (SA) (section 74)

Page last updated: 29 January 2021