FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Enterprise Agreement (EA)
WHAT IS AN ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT?
Enterprise agreements [sometimes called an EBA or Enterprise Bargaining Agreement] are agreements made at an enterprise level between employers and employees and their union, about terms and conditions of employment.
They can also be made by more than one employer, with a group of employees.
WHY HAVE AN ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT?
Although Awards cover minimum pay and conditions for an industry, enterprise agreements can cover specific arrangements for a particular enterprise.
Normally, everything that is in an Award is also a minimum standard in an EA. EAs are never allowed to offer less than is contained in the base standards provided by the *National Employment Standards*.
WHAT DO ENTERPRISE BARGAINING AGREEMENTS COVER?
Enterprise agreements can include a broad range of matters such as:
- rates of pay
- employment conditions e.g. hours of work, meal breaks, overtime
- penalty rates and allowances
- how and when employees and their representatives will be consulted
- dispute resolution procedures
- deductions from wages for any purpose authorised by an employee.
They cannot, however, include anything unlawful (such as discriminatory or objectionable terms).
DOES AN ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT REPLACE AN AWARD?
Yes. When an Enterprise Agreement is in operation, the modern award that covers that employment no longer applies.
However, the pay rate in the enterprise agreement will not usually be less than the pay rate in the modern award.
CAN I MAKE MY OWN INDIVIDUAL AGREEMENT?
No. You can no longer make new individual agreements. This is designed to protect people from being played off against one another.
HOW DO YOU GET AN ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT?
Enterprise Agreements are negotiated between your union and your employer. Your union represents your interests if you’re a member.
The process of reaching an Agreement can take many weeks or months of discussion and a great deal of industrial knowledge and expertise in negotiations to work through issues of importance to each side.
HOW DO I GET A SAY IN WHAT THE UNION NEGOTIATES FOR ME?
To have your say in what is negotiated on your behalf, you need to become a member of your union.
Union members effectively pay for all employees to be represented in negotiations with your employer, so the more members of a workforce who are financial members, the more resources your union has to negotiate on your behalf.
ARE THERE RULES ABOUT MAKING ENTERPRISE AGREEMENTS?
Yes. The process is overseen by the Fair Work Commission. One of the key rules relates to what’s known as ‘bargaining in good faith’.
This means that basically, both sides have to play fair.
Fair Work Commission has specified bargaining in good faith principles as follows:
- recognise and bargain with the other bargaining representatives involved
- attend and participate in meetings at reasonable times
- disclose relevant information in a timely manner (this excludes conﬁdential or commercially sensitive information)
- respond to proposals made by the other bargaining representatives in a timely manner
- genuinely consider the proposals of the other bargaining representatives and provide reasons for the responses
- refrain from behaving in a way that undermines freedom of association or collective bargaining.
DO I HAVE AN ENTERPRISE AGREEMENT?
Depends on which company you are in.
All Enterprise Agreements can be found on Fair Work Commission website. FWC Agreements
Need advice on which Agreement covers you? If you are a member of your union, the Health Services Union S/NT, you can contact the union or contact Fair Work Ombudsman at: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/
And yes, you can see your Agreement – it’s a public document.
National Employment Standards (NES)*
WHAT ARE THE NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS?
The National Employment Standards (NES) are 10 minimum legislative requirements to which all employees are entitled.
When your workplace makes an Enterprise Agreement, these agreements can provide superior entitlements, but cannot provide for anything less than provided for by the NES.
Pay rates are not covered by the NES – they’re specified in awards. It is illegal to pay an employee less than the award rate of pay.
To view the latest National Employment Standards go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
THE NES 10 MINIMUM ENTITLEMENTS
HOURS OF WORK
38 hours per work plus reasonable additional [overtime] hours. An employee can refuse unreasonable additional hours.
FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS
An employee with caring responsibilities [family or household], who has a disability, is over 55, or experiencing domestic violence may request a change to workplace arrangements to accommodate caring responsibilities. This request can only be refused on reasonable business grounds.
An employee (after 12 months) is entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave and to request a second period of 12 months unpaid leave. The second request can only be refused on reasonable business grounds. The decision to refuse the request is not reviewable under the NES although Agreements can provide for a right to review this decision.
Employees (excluding casual employees) are entitled to 4 weeks annual leave and most shift workers receive 5 weeks leave (paid). Annual leave continues to accrue while an employee is on paid leave.
PERSONAL, CARERS, COMPASSIONATE LEAVE
10 days paid personal/carers leave. An employee is also entitled to an additional 2 days unpaid carer’s leave per occasion and 2 days paid compassionate leave per occasion. Casual employees are entitled to unpaid leave.
COMMUNITY SERVICE LEAVE
This applies for jury service and voluntary emergency management activities, such as CFA. Leave is unpaid, except for the first 10 days of jury service where the employee is not casual.
LONG SERVICE LEAVE
Employees are entitled to long service leave in accordance with pre-existing entitlements.
An employee is entitled to be absent without loss of pay from his/her employment on a day that is a public holiday where the employee is based. An employee may refuse a request to work on a public holiday if the request to work is unreasonable, or the refusal to work is reasonable.
TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT AND REDUNDANCY
An employer must give a minimum notice period for termination of employment and redundancy. The period is dependent on the years of service. Where an employee’s employment is terminated for redundancy reasons, the employee is entitled to redundancy pay. The amount of redundancy pay is dependent on the years of service.
Employers must give all employees on commencement of their employment a statement advising the employee of their entitlements and rights under the Act Statement to be published by Fair Work Australia.
NB: *National Employment Standards (NES)