The new federal government says it wants to end what it calls “a vicious cycle” in which people from low-income families and the vulnerable are left behind when job seekers from the wealthy are hired.
The Liberal Party says it’s an “unprecedented” opportunity to “put people back to work”.
The announcement came as Labor warned it was looking to cut back on “pay-to-play” and “pay to win” schemes which can result in a contractor earning thousands of dollars while employees can barely afford rent and food.
The Labor Government has been criticized for not cracking down on “payment-to, play” arrangements that allow contractors to pay a low wage to workers in return for favourable treatment in the workplace.
But the new government says the measures will “put families back to the work of building their lives and businesses”.
The measures are part of a $2.4 billion package to help small businesses rebuild their businesses.
In a statement, the Government said it would increase the minimum wage from $10.50 an hour to $11.50 by 2022.
It also announced it would cut “pay gap” rates from 2.5 per cent to 1.75 per cent.
Income-sharing and tax breaks are also being introduced to help people who have to work for free and make ends meet.
It’s estimated the $2 billion will help almost 5 million people in the next four years.
The measures include:$200 for families with children up to age 17, $500 for families of the working age with children aged under 15, $1,000 for families who earn more than $150,000, and $200 for those who earn less than $75,000.
The changes are expected to take effect from July 1, 2021.
The Federal Government says its measures will:Increase the minimum wages to $10 an hour by 2022, from $11 by 2022 and from $15 by 2022 for families working for free.
Increase the amount of income-based child benefits paid to workers with children from $3,000 to $6,000 per child.
Allow workers who have children to receive a payment of $1 per week, or $2 per week for a family of five.
Increase child benefit payments from $7,500 per child to $9,000 annually for single workers and $13,500 for married workers with no children.
The Government says it will also increase the child benefit amount from $1 to $2 a week for families in which both parents work.
The new measures are expected with some changes to the way workers can be paid.
For instance, the new system would allow workers to be paid by their occupation, rather than their wage, as they are now.
The government says workers will be able to request payments in increments of $5 an hour or $10 per hour if they need more than one job.
The program will be phased in over four years, with all new employees being given the option to receive more money.
The $200 payment would be given to employees who have at least one child under the age of five, as well as to workers who are employed full time and earn more.
The Prime Minister has previously said the measures would “save families hundreds of thousands of bucks”.
Labor has also criticised the $200 payments, arguing they don’t go far enough to help low-wage workers.
“The Prime Minster’s announcement that $200 is going to be the starting point for a huge increase in payments is a further attempt to cover up a huge pay-to the-play scandal which has been exposed by The ABC and the ABC’s own investigation,” the party’s shadow assistant treasurer, Penny Wong, said in a statement.
“Labor will fight these payments to ensure they are paid to families who have no choice but to work as minimum wage workers in a system that allows for massive profits for the contractors.”
Ms Wong said Labor will “fight the Government’s pay-for-play schemes from the front door” and would be looking to “impose sanctions” on contractors who have breached them.
Labor says it would also create a new “pay structure” that would allow employers to give employees the same pay as a contractor, regardless of the size of the job.
“It’s a fair way of working, it’s a fairer way of doing business, it will save families money,” Ms Wong said.
The Opposition has said the changes would be too little too late.
Labor’s chief executive Andrew Leigh has previously defended the changes, saying the new scheme will give people the chance to “go out and earn money for their family”.
“These are not cuts to the poor.
These are real changes,” he said.”
These changes will put millions of Australians back to working and living in families that work hard and get ahead.””
It will also ensure that low-skilled workers have the chance of building up their own incomes to support their families and their families’ families,