How to manage the impact of minimum wage increases on SME businesses in Australia

How-to

SME business owner looks at camera

The topic of minimum wage increases continues to be a significant point of discussion, often causing tensions between workers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

With the recent announcement by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to implement a 5.75% increase in the minimum wage, it is crucial for SMEs to understand and adapt to the changing landscape.

While workers aspire to achieve better living standards, SMEs have legitimate concerns about the potential impact on their profitability and overall business operations.

In this updated guide, we provide practical, informative, and clear guidance for Australian SMEs on how to effectively manage and respond to minimum wage increases.

Minimum wage law in Australia

The FWC regulates workplace relations and sets the minimum wage law in Australia. The minimum wage is reviewed annually to reflect inflation and changes in the cost of living.

As of July 2023, the minimum wage in Australia is $23.23 per hour or $882.80 per week for full-time workers. It applies to all employees, including part-time and casual workers, and employers must keep accurate records of employees’ work hours and wages.

Australian minimum wages graph
Australia weekly minimum wage chart. Fair Work Ombudsman

Impact of minimum wage on SME businesses

With the recent increase of 5.75% in minimum wage rates, SMEs are now facing the reality of higher labour costs. These changes will come into effect on July 1, impacting businesses across various industries.

The rise in minimum wage presents challenges for SMEs, as it directly affects their profitability and financial stability. Business owners must carefully assess the impact of these changes on their operations and make necessary adjustments to ensure compliance while sustaining their bottom line.

Higher labour costs can put pressure on profit margins, making it crucial for SMEs to find ways to mitigate the impact. Implementing efficient processes, optimising productivity, and exploring alternative solutions such as working capital financing can help businesses navigate through these changes and maintain their competitiveness.

Additionally, SMEs should consider reviewing their pricing strategies and operational efficiencies to offset the increased labor expenses. By making proactive adjustments and seeking guidance from financial advisors or industry experts, businesses can strive to adapt to the new minimum wage landscape and continue to thrive.

It is important for SMEs to stay informed about any future developments and changes in minimum wage policies, as they can have a significant impact on their operations and workforce. Regularly reviewing and updating their financial plans and strategies will enable businesses to navigate the evolving landscape effectively and ensure long-term success.

Are more wage rises likely?

While the recent increase in minimum wage rates has been implemented, the future of wage rises remains uncertain. The FWC will continue to evaluate the economic conditions and other relevant factors before making their decision for the upcoming year.

Various economic factors, such as inflation rates, unemployment levels, and overall productivity, will play a significant role in determining whether further increases are warranted. Additionally, the impact on businesses and workers will also be carefully considered.

Given the current economic challenges, such as high inflation and rising interest rates, the FWC may opt to maintain the minimum wage at its current level in the following years.

It’s important for businesses to stay informed about any future developments and changes in minimum wage policies. Regularly reviewing and updating their financial plans and strategies will enable them to adapt to any potential changes effectively.

This guide aims to provide practical and informative guidance for Australian SMEs on how to navigate and respond to recent minimum wage increases. By understanding the implications, exploring strategic adjustments, and implementing effective management practices, businesses can strive for a balanced approach that supports both their employees and their financial stability.

How working capital solutions can help small businesses

Working capital solutions can provide small businesses with the financial flexibility they need to manage the impact of a minimum wage increase.

These solutions can help businesses to:

  • Access the funds they need to cover increased labour costs.
  • Improve their cash flow and reduce the risk of financial distress.
  • Invest in new growth opportunities.
  • Maintain a strong credit rating.

There are a number of different working capital solutions available to small businesses, including:

  • Invoice financing: This allows businesses to borrow money against unpaid invoices, providing them with cash flow to manage expenses.
  • Trade finance: This provides short-term loans for businesses to purchase goods and pay their suppliers.
  • Supply chain finance technology, such as Fifopay: This streamlines payment processes with suppliers while extending payment terms.
  • Whole of book invoicing: This allows businesses to access a line of credit that allows them to access the funds they need for wages, expenses, or investments.


By working with a working capital provider, small businesses can get the financial support they need to manage the impact of a minimum wage increase and continue to grow their business.

Here are some additional tips for small businesses that are preparing for a minimum wage increase:

  • Review your pricing and costs. A minimum wage increase will increase your labour costs. You may need to review your pricing and costs to offset these increased costs.
  • Consider automation and technology. Automation and technology can help you to reduce your labour costs. For example, you could use self-checkout machines in retail stores or automated food preparation systems in restaurants.
  • Improve efficiency. There are a number of ways to improve efficiency in your business. This could include streamlining processes, reducing waste, and investing in training.
  • Seek professional advice. If you are concerned about the impact of a minimum wage increase, you may want to seek professional advice from an accountant, lawyer, or business advisor.

By taking these steps, you can help to mitigate the impact of a minimum wage increase and protect your business.

SME business owner looks at camera

Importance of cash flow management

Cash flow management is essential for SMEs to manage the impact of minimum wage increases effectively. To improve cash flow, SMEs can:

  • Forecast cash flow accurately: SMEs should have a clear understanding of their incoming and outgoing cash flows to manage expenses effectively.
  • Reduce inventory levels: Keeping inventory levels low reduces storage and handling costs and frees up cash to manage expenses.
  • Negotiate better payment terms with suppliers: Negotiating longer payment terms with suppliers can provide more time to manage cash flow, reducing the burden of short-term expenses.

Addressing concerns of workers

Acknowledging the significance of minimum wage increases for both SMEs and workers is essential. While SMEs must navigate the impact on their operations, it’s equally important to address the concerns of workers striving for improved living standards.

Finding a balance between fair wages and managing the financial impact on SMEs can be achieved through strategic working capital solutions. These solutions enable businesses to meet the increased wage requirements while ensuring their financial stability and sustainability.

Recognising the value of a content and motivated workforce, SMEs can cultivate a positive work environment that promotes productivity and customer satisfaction. By prioritising fair wages and exploring innovative financial solutions, businesses can create a win-win situation that benefits both their employees and their overall success.

Takeaway

The minimum wage is a complex issue with a significant impact on SMEs. By taking proactive steps to manage the impact of minimum wage, businesses can protect their bottom line and continue to grow.

If you’d like to learn more about how to manage the impact of a minimum wage increase, book a time to talk with our team. We can show you ways to strengthen your position and options to use your working capital to protect and propel your business.

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