Fair Work Commission release guide to help with enterprise agreements

Australia’s Fair Work Commission has produced a guide to assist employers and employees to ensure their enterprise agreements are fully compliant with current legislation before they are lodged.

The guide offers information on the 20 most common mistakes made in enterprise agreements and explains how to avoid them. It also outlines changes to the statutory framework, the time it takes for the FWC to approve agreements, explains the Commission’s Agreement Triage Process and provides other tools to help streamline the process.

“The volume of non-compliant agreement applications has more than doubled since 2016,” the Fair Work Commission explained. “While it takes time and resources, the Commission routinely seeks to work with parties to remedy these defects rather than the alternative option of dismissing the applications, which would require the parties to recommence bargaining.”

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said in a statement that of note in the guide, were changes to the triage process “whereby correspondence will now largely be sent from the relevant Member’s chambers rather than the triage team”.

“This change is aimed at streamlining the communication process and enabling the triage staff to focus on completing the agreement analysis faster, enabling approval applications to be dealt with in a more timely manner overall,” the statement continued.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also noted the availability of a number of resources produced by the FWC to ensure compliant enterprise agreements.

These include:

  • ‘Smart form’: The FWC will soon showcase prototype “smart form” for approval applications which will enable users to be alerted as they are filling out the form if statutory timeframes have not been met. FWC members wanting to participate shelf contact the FWC at member.assist@fwc.gov.au

  • Stakeholder engagement / Outreach program: FWC members are now available to discuss the agreements approval process and the common mistakes made during the writing up of agreements and approval applications. FWC members can arrange a meeting by contacting Commissioner Lee at Chambers.Lee.C@fwc.gov.au

  • Tailored materials: The FWC can now also provide tailored feedback and education materials, identifying common mistakes in their types of agreements and approval applications. This tailored information is available by emailing member.assist@fwc.gov.au

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