The number of people employed in the Australian Human Resource (HR) sector has grown by almost 30 per cent in the past five years, according to new figures.
The number of workers in HR has increased by an average of 8.5 per cent each year since 2013, according the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The figure has been driven by the introduction of the WorkChoices scheme, which will see workers in the HR sector pay more into a shared pay system that will eventually result in workers earning more.
In 2020, HR workers will receive an average wage of $23,300, up from $21,900 in 2021, and the share of workers with a salary above $100,000 will rise from 26 per cent to 32 per cent, according ABS figures.
The figures are released ahead of the federal election in 2019, which is expected to see the Coalition government move to a more pro-worker platform.
While the figures will help politicians focus on jobs, they will also highlight the gap between the wages paid by HR workers and the wages earned by Australians.
Australia has a high unemployment rate, with 8.3 per cent of the workforce aged 25 to 54 in employment in the country, according data from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS).
Despite the high level of unemployment, workers in many industries have been able to access benefits.
More than half of HR workers received their full or partial annual salary in the financial year that ended in June 2019, according an analysis from ACOSS.
“Workers with jobs are not only making more money, but also earning more money,” said Caren Jones, the group’s executive director.
Employment figures for 2018, which included unemployment data, showed that HR workers made an average $30,500 a year, a rate that is only marginally lower than the $38,400 workers earned in the same period in 2017.
However, the gap in pay between HR workers is even greater, with the median pay for HR workers earning $53,600 in 2018, compared to $55,600 for the median employee in the broader labour market, according a report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).
“In terms of wages, workers earning between $70,000 and $100 of a salary are not getting paid enough to live on, so they are getting more money from their employers than they should be,” said Jones.
Despite rising unemployment, the average annual income for HR employees has remained relatively flat over the past decade, at $36,500, according government figures.
However, it rose by more than $2,000 from $36.7 million in 2018 to $38.1 million in 2019.
Rising pay for the most senior roles in the industry will also mean HR staff will be able to continue to access social security payments, while those with low skills or education will also be able access the minimum wage.
Workplace flexibility will also allow employers to make changes in their workplace structure to accommodate workers in particular positions, including some that require a more flexible working environment.
Currently, HR staff in some areas are being paid more than the minimum minimum wage, including those in the health and welfare sector, but it is expected that those in some other industries will see the same trend.
One of the biggest barriers to HR employees making enough money to live independently is that many HR jobs require minimum-wage or non-permanent-contract work, meaning that they do not pay enough for their own living expenses.
Another challenge is that employers will still need to pay people more to access the same benefits that HR staff get.
But if the Coalition wants to ensure that employees in HR do not have to pay into the Work Choices scheme or pay into social security, it will have to ensure it is fair for HR staff to be paid what they earn, Jones said.
Read more about employment in Australia.