By Paul Moss, Principal Workplace Relations Advocate

Prescriptive interpretation of the laws governing enterprise agreements is threatening the system. There is hope that enterprise bargaining can be brought back on track, but we need your help.

Under the Fair Work Act, enterprise agreements have been the sole option for many workplaces in establishing terms and conditions of employment that are suitable to their workplaces, along with creating surety for those industries where there is a risk of industrial action.

However, the number of enterprise agreements being made is in significant decline. At the end of 2018 there were just 10,900 current enterprise agreements, down from a high of more than 25,000 current enterprise agreements in late 2010.

For those who have recently sought to make an enterprise agreement, or have contemplated doing so, the reasons for this decline are obvious.

The shift towards a line by line application of the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) makes it difficult to establish workplace arrangements different from the award conditions, raising serious questions about their benefit. 

Added to this is the complex process for making an enterprise agreement, the time taken for them to be approved, inconsistencies within the Fair Work Commission, and the potential for increased workplace disruption.

The Federal Government has recognised that the system is in disarray and has announced plans to review the requirements for making enterprise agreements and the approval process. 

However, for this to be successful the Government needs to hear directly from employers about their experiences with enterprise agreements, both from those who have weathered the process and those who chose not to.

CCIWA is inviting businesses to participate in a survey on their recent experiences (i.e. within last five years). 

This information will be de-identified and used to provide the Government with real life examples of the challenges with enterprise agreements and the impact for employers, employees and the wider community.

To tell your story, complete this short survey.

For businesses where enterprise agreements remain a viable option CCIWA can help you navigate the system and explore other options. Contact CCI’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on 9365 7660.