Is Working in a Supermarket/Retail Job Considered as a Low Paid Job?

I was wondering if supermarket and retail sector job is considered as a low paid job?

I make about $800 per week after tax, but the job is easy and relatively secure due to permanent contract. Sorry I have no idea about the market. I am definitely living ‘modestly’ and still finding it very hard to save or see a future if pay is in this trajectory. Where can I apply to get a higher pay with my retail experience?

Comments

    • +17 votes

      The increase from $3.2k to $5k is $1.8k… or more than a 50% jump. That's a fair bit off.

      •  

        Damn! beat me to it by 10 seconds! haha

      • +3 votes

        i didn't mean a pay rise within a same job from same person.

        i'm looking at the magnitude of difference betwen Avg. 80k package from a skilled worker VS unskilled high school grad taking 3.2k home.

        • +2 votes

          the magnitude of difference could be well over 200% better off

          if your monthly expenses are $2000 and you can save $1200

          but now your saving $3000 a month, you are actually 250% better off than before

        • +4 votes

          @redfox1200:

          Maybe my POV is different

          In neighbouring countries , unskilled worker take home $900 vs avg. skilled worker $3000-4000

          now that's a huge difference

        • +1 vote

          @phunkydude: Can't really compare Australia with neighbouring countries, since other than NZ, we're really the only developed "Western" country in the region. And that means different standards (and costs) of living, as well as differing expectations.

        •  

          @HighAndDry:

          but the gap still remains true , no ?

        •  

          @phunkydude: It depends. If your pay is only 30% of Australian pay, but your cost of living is only 20% as much - you're effectively making more. But then you have to also take into account the standard of living differences, so it's a hard comparison.

        • +1 vote

          In neighbouring countries , unskilled worker take home $900 vs avg. skilled worker $3000-4000

          @phunkydude: Is the cost of living in those neighbouring countries the same as in Australia?

  • +2 votes

    I always thought that supermarket pay was at the minimum wage level for the industry. Not sure if it's changed or not, but there was quite a bit in the media last year or the year about some rates being lower because of an EBA negotiated between the union and the employer.

    I'd consider anything at the minimum wage to be "low".

    • +2 votes

      National minimum wage is 19$ but in our supermarket most people get $22 unless younger, I still consider it as low too as it is hard to get by even after stringent budgeting.

      • +25 votes

        It's your responsibility to make sure that your income level is where you want it to be to meet your life goals. And the minimum wage is only supposed to be making sure people don't starve - it certainly won't be enough (and rightly so - it's a minimum wage) for you to save up for investments or any luxuries.

        Edited to be nicer.

        • +2 votes

          I agree. I need to seek out for better jobs.

        • -20 votes

          I don't think you really understand how employment really works.

        • +10 votes

          @try2bhelpful: I'm actually a little curious by what exactly you mean by this. What does "employment" mean to you? (Didn't neg you by the way - I ran out a lot earlier on…)

        • +4 votes

          @StiffHindQuarters: Don't we all… keep at it and good luck!

        • +3 votes

          @StiffHindQuarters: Minimum wage is a living wage, not 'living comfortably wage.' I worked retail for years, squeezing shifts during uni and taking on full-time hours between semesters, but it was never the end-game.

          Where can I apply to get a higher pay with my retail experience?

          Become team leader/manager, etc. It's not like retail or hospo experience qualifies you for much else.

        •  

          @Strand0410: …so what's a "living comfortably wage" then?

        •  

          @Zachary: Depends on your circumstances and desired standard of living. There was a thread by someone asking "What's a comfortable income for…." which set out pretty good considerations.

        •  

          @Zachary: Depends what your expectations and expenses are. If you're renting, single, have few expenses and no dependents, minimum wage is okay. But don't think you can support 3 kids or afford a holiday every year.

        •  

          @Strand0410 @HighAndDry

          …well I wanna buy a house so I have my own house to live in, have enough money left over to pay for utility expenses, drive a nice sounding muscle car to work, commute or even on the race track….instead of renting….or freeloading off someone else….would I be able to survive comfortably on minimum wage?

          I actually looked up "What's a comfortable income for" but couldn't find any threads mentioning his exact quote save for your comment in this thread….

    • +2 votes

      https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/sold-out-quarter-o...

      You’re referring to actions of the SDA and that was somewhat put to and end with the 2014 Coles EBA being successfully challenged for failing to meet the better off overall test that an EBA must meet. Since that decision, a new retail and fast food union has launched and is in the process of negotiating new agreements as well as terminating others, restoring penalty rates and other minimum Award conditions to those affected.

      Specifically regarding supermarkets, existing Coles employees (prior to the 2018 EBA) are paid slightly above the Award p/h and receive penalty rates, while those at Woolworths are still underpaid if they work after 6pm weekdays, Saturday and Sunday.

      •  

        Thanks for the information - that's what I was referring to, but wasn't sure of the exact terms or agreements.

  • +5 votes

    Depends what position you are in the supermarket. But if you're only stocking shelves or working the cashier, then I can't imagine there's a high ceiling for career advancement without moving to a managerial position.

  •  

    I've heard places like Aldi and Costco pay well

  • +14 votes

    When one considers the skills / training / intellect required to be a retail worker, they are highly paid in Australia.

    Thanks to Australia's high minimum wage and the union's insistence that penalty rates be paid, retail workers are paid very well when you consider virtually anyone off the street could step into their role.

  • -1 vote

    What days do you work? Could you pick up a shift on Sunday to get more money?

    Oh, I forgot, the Libs have cut Sunday rates. Don't forget to thank them at the next election.

      • +18 votes

        Weekend rates definitely should be higher. From my experience (when I was studying full time and working part time) I really valued my weekends as university would take up a good part of the week and adding in a few shifts during mon - friday would only leave the weekend for leisure.

        If you told me my weekend rates were to be lowered to the same as weekday rates I'd definitely substitute away from working the weekends to taking some off as going out, catching up with friends and other leisures would give me more satisfaction.

        Additionally working weekends is generally far more stressful than weekdays. Most adults work mon - fri and kids go to school during that time, so they have time to go shopping during the weekend. When you have management putting the minimum amount of people on the floor it can get pretty crazy. The numbers dont lie either, I remember seeing the sales figures and every saturday or sunday would be at least twice the amount of trade compared to a weekday.

        Ultimately, from my experience and others I have spoken to, weekend rates should be higher unless conditions have changed since I worked there ~4 years ago.

        • +1 vote

          I mean this is really the point:

          If you told me my weekend rates were to be lowered to the same as weekday rates I'd definitely substitute away from working the weekends to taking some off as going out, catching up with friends and other leisures would give me more satisfaction.

          You can do this. And if enough people did, employers would have to raise weekend rates even without a minimum wage, just to attract people to work those days because weekends are also lucrative for them. You've basically described how the market is supposed to work.

        • +1 vote

          @HighAndDry: Well, thats my take on it if someone questioned why weekend rates should be higher. For some workers its not as convenient as it seems to work the weekend.

        • -3 votes

          @hadz: See, I'd agree if you said those reasons are why Sunday rates are higher - because people like that time more, less are willing to work, and so places have to pay more to get people to work there. But why they should be higher… you're still putting in the same amount of work, and it's not an especially special time like midnight where you literally have to put in more effort to get the same results out.

          Anyways, thanks for the perspective.

        • +2 votes

          @HighAndDry: But it isnt the same amount of work though on a weekend vs a weekday.

          As I mentioned earlier sales were at least twice the $ amount on saturday or sunday compared to a weekday. So if $20000 was done on average for a weekday, it was common for at least $40000 to be done on a weekend (which is a very conservative estimate). Where did that extra 20000 come from? Were people buying more expensive items on the weekend? were people buying more items in total on the weekend?. Those two could have influenced the result but from what I experienced on the floor it was due to more transactions in total on the weekend (so you had to serve a greater amount of customers and their needs), then second was more items per transaction as the whole family was there in a lot of cases.

          So, a large increase in the number of transactions and items sold, in addition to any housekeeping duties, would lead me to safely assume that you are definitely putting in more work on a weekend compared to a weekday. Also keeping in mind there wasnt a significant increase in rostered staff on weekends to make up for the increased sales.

        • -7 votes

          @hadz: That's honestly irrelevant. If you wanted a percentage of the business' take, work in sales for commission. But then you give up the stability of a flat wage.

          And just because sometimes you might be less busy and so idle, doesn't mean you should expect or be entitled to always be paid for that level of idleness. You get paid by time worked - if you're busy, then you're busy. If not, then you're lucky.

        • +1 vote

          @HighAndDry: How can you dismiss it as irrelevant when I have provided a real world example of how you arent putting in the same amount of work on a weekend vs weekday? A commission may be one path to take, the other being a fixed rate across all days. The current system smooths out both extremes and provides a suitable option. A weekday rate and a weekend rate. Your argument was amount of work not time worked.

        • +3 votes

          @HighAndDry: just gonna chip in, you're forgetting opportunity cost. By taking the weekend to work you are forfeiting the chance to spend time in other social interactions.

        •  

          @hadz: It's irrelevant because if you're being paid on an hourly basis, you're expected to be working all those hours. If you're not busy, that's a bonus, but it shouldn't be expected. Say there's an event on on one of your weekday rostered shifts (say a kid's sports event) and it's super busy. Should you get paid more? No.

          I'm talking about things like midnight shifts. Being "busier" on a weekend isn't it.

        • +1 vote

          @echineon: If we're talking about students, the whole WEEK is filled with "social interactions". And that's something for you to consider - don't like it, don't put your hand up to work weekend shifts.

        •  

          @HighAndDry:

          you're still putting in the same amount of work

          that was part of your argument and I provided a highly relevant real world example to counter it.

          If you're not busy, that's a bonus, but it shouldn't be expected. Say there's an event on on one of your weekday rostered shifts (say a kid's sports event) and it's super busy.

          Those are one off events and arent reliable to make predictions off. We saw the figures week in week out, where the weekends were consistently twice as busy (which is being conservative) in terms of trade. This is reliable information and from that we can make the judgement that weekends are in fact 'more work' for each individual when there is no significant change in staff numbers on the floor.

          If there was a weekday event that was consistent over a long period of time, then the workers could make a case for higher pay just like on the weekends. But a little rush of customers once in a while is insignificant and should not detract from being appropriately compensated on weekends with higher workloads.

        • -1 vote

          @hadz:

          that was part of your argument and I provided a highly relevant real world example to counter it.

          It was and I pretty much (okay, maybe 70%?) still stand by it. You're being paid on an hourly basis. That is the main metric that your 'work' is measured in, and it's still the same. Just because some days you get to slack off, doesn't mean you're entitled to slack off.

          Otherwise, should outdoor cafe workers be paid more in the summer months? More business, and higher opportunity cost of those beautiful summer days! Or retail workers in children related industries paid more during school holiday weeks? No - same hours, same pay.

        • +1 vote

          @HighAndDry:

          You're being paid on an hourly basis. That is the main metric that your 'work' is measured in, and it's still the same.

          Hours worked is a very weak and not very accurate way to measure 'work'. More accurate measures would be sales such as sales per hour or the value of each of the sales. The hour is only a way to allow for comparison of sales figures not an absolute measure. You'll find that performance in the vast majority of retail (which are selling and service jobs) is measured in some form of sales/transactions rather than time.

          Im sure those in particular niches of retail have negotiated agreements with their employer.

          However, lets consider the case of an outdoor cafe worker. So there is an increase in business around the seasons. In this case firms hire seasonal staff to make up for stronger trading periods as there is reliable knowledge about these periods. This way the current workers wouldnt be too burdened by the increase in traffic as there are other staff to spread the workload.

          The current system of weekend rates is fine as it can be applied consistently across the retail industry. If you want to look at it on a super micro level in niche markets youd want to talk to someone who is or was in that position with the numbers to back it up.

    •  

      Oh, I forgot, the Libs have cut Sunday rates. Don't forget to thank them at the next election.

      Changes in the award wage rate do NOT affect supermarket workers who are paid under EBA agreements.

      In my experience working at a major supermarket, the Sunday penalty rates from the union-negotiated EBA agreement has always been lower than the award wage. After the recent changes by the government (as recommended by the Fair Work Commission), Sunday penalty rates under my EBA are only now in line with the Sunday penalty rates under the new award wage rate.

  • +9 votes

    It is a balance.

    I earn about $250k before tax but is it worth it? I sacrifice many things to earn it - including years of study, choice of city, friends, family, weekends and more.
    On reflection, I'm not sure it is worth it for me.

    You will need to ask yourself:
    * how much more money do I need?
    * what am I willing to sacrifice for it?

    I think once you have answered these questions you can formulate a plan.

    • -12 votes

      lucky, I earn about $250k after tax

    •  

      Before hitting a comfortable income level it’s hard to imagine this though. I remember when I crossed around the 70-80k line, I feel like all the money I earn after that were kinda extra and I don’t immediately need it and it does not really contribute to my immediate happiness. Of course you can save these and buy bigger things like properties and nice cars, but before hitting the comfortable level, it’s hard to imagine this.

    • +5 votes

      ^This is the truth.

      If you're single and all you want is to make money, that 250k a year job you dedicate your life to might be worth it.

      If you have a family and other goals, not so much.

      A mate of mine, a civil engineer worked for one of the larger companies in his industry and was run off his feet. 16 hour work days were frequent, he had no life.

      He took a huuuuuuge paycut, moved to a smaller company and couldn't be happier. Still makes enough money to live comfortably enough and isn't burnt out.

      It's all about balance.

      • +4 votes

        Yeah it's all about balance and what you're happy with.

        I'd gladly work 16 hour days, even more so for private security in a warzone for $250k for 3 month stints. At least you'd be able to afford to buy a home in just a few years rather thank suffer financially, paying back a loan for 40 years just to own a shitty small home.

        I mean, even if it was just for 5 years, that's nothing in the scale of things to come for the rest of your life.

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