Enterprise agreements are made under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) under a simple and fair framework that helps employers and employees bargain in good faith. It is important that employers understand the requirements and processes associated with enterprise agreement approval. If you need assistance with the enterprise agreement approval process, contact our experienced solicitors by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on (02) 4929 7002.
What is enterprise bargaining?
Enterprise bargaining is the process by which one or more employers and employees negotiate the terms of an agreement. This process commences when the employer imitates or agrees to bargain. Employers should notify their employees of the right to bargain as soon as possible and the notification should be given to each current employee proposed to be covered by the enterprise agreement.
Employees should be aware that they have the right to appoint a bargaining representative to advise them in the process of negotiating a proposed enterprise agreement. The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) defines bargaining representatives as any employer that will be covered by the agreement, a trade union or a person specified in writing as a bargaining representative for either an employer or employer who would be covered by the agreement.
If a bargaining representative benefits from a term of the proposed agreement, they must disclose the financial gain they will (or could) acquire as a result of a term.
Bargaining in good faith
All parties are required to act in good faith when bargaining a proposed enterprise agreement. Examples of good faith bargaining requirements include attending and participating in meetings, disclosing relevant information in a timely manner and giving genuine consideration of proposals made by other bargaining representatives.
At the conclusion of enterprise bargaining the parties should have a draft enterprise agreement. The next step for employees to vote on the proposed terms. In the seven days prior to the voting for the agreement, the employer must ensure employees are given a copy of the agreement and other relevant materials incorporated into the agreement.
The employer is also required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the terms of the enterprise agreement, and the effect of the terms, are explained to employees.
Is the vote successful?
The success of a vote depends on whether the enterprise agreement is intended to cover a single or multiple enterprises. For a single-enterprise agreement the majority of employees of the employer who cast a vote must endorse the agreement for the vote to succeed.
Regarding multi-enterprise agreement, an agreement only covers employers the majority of whose employees have voted to approve the agreement. The agreement will not cover employers a majority of whose employees did not vote to approve the agreement and will be varied to remove these employers.
Once the employees approve the enterprise agreement, an application for approval of the proposed enterprise agreement must be lodged with the Fair Work Commission within 14 days of the agreement being made. To approve an enterprise agreement, the Commission will review the terms and ensure that all pre-approval steps have been taken.
The Commission may approve an enterprise agreement that does not meet certain requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) if an individual makes a written undertaking which satisfies and addresses their concerns. As an individual you may make a written undertaking after seeking the views of each bargaining representative and ensuring that the agreement will not cause financial detriment to employees or result in substantial change to the agreement.
Once approved, the enterprise agreement will set out minimum conditions of employment between the covered employer and employees, together with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
“We needed a new standard contract for our employees that complied with the relevant award conditions. We wanted a document that was short and easy to understand. Butlers drafted a standard agreement that we could use for our employees and advised on what we needed to do to comply with awards and employment legislation. The team took a practical approach and guided us through this complex area of law.”
Our experienced team of solicitors can help you with every aspect of the enterprise agreement negotiation and bargaining process. If you need assistance with enterprise agreements or the bargaining process, email us at email@example.com or call us on (02) 4929 7002.