Woolworths has agreed to a minimum wage rise ahead of the industrial umpire’s scheduled increase after clinching a deal with the retail union.

The major supermarket will backdate the annual wage increase to July 1 this year despite the Fair Work Commission delaying the retail award rise until February 2021 because of coronavirus.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association national secretary Gerard Dwyer said members were providing an essential service during a once-in-a-generation crisis.

“Woolworths has done the right thing by its team in bringing forward these pay increases ahead of the FWC schedule and should be congratulated for putting their team first,” he said on Wednesday.

The SDA and Woolworths have scrapped legal proceedings in relation to the dispute.

Woolworths general manager of workplace relations Hayley Baxendale said the decision would provide a quicker resolution for the company’s team in unsettling times.

“We care deeply for our team and feel that delivering these pay increases early – without lengthy legal proceedings – is just the right way to resolve the issue and move forward,” she said.

The decision will help Woolworths Supermarkets, BIG W, BWS and Dan Murphy’s staff to receive the new minimum wage of $19.84 per hour.

The SDA is urging other large retailers to follow Woolworths’ lead.

Minimum wage increases have historically taken effect at the start of financial years.