The Fair Work Act 2009 created the Fair Work system where minimum standards were created under the national workplace relations system.
Generally, employers and employees can enter into agreements defining the terms and conditions of work but these terms and conditions cannot provide for less than the minimum standards provided in the Fair Work system.
To ensure that employees are protected, the federal government through the Fair Work Ombudsman provides minimum conditions for work in different industries or occupations. These are called awards.
What are awards under the national workplace relations system?
Modern awards are legal documents that provide minimum pay-rates and other conditions of employment for specific businesses, occupations or industries.
Modern awards are minimum terms and conditions of employment that employers are required to comply with, and deal with matters such as pay, hours worked, breaks, allowances, overtime and penalty rates.
The minimum terms and conditions of employment in modern awards are in addition to the National Employment Standards.
Is my job covered by an award?
The Fair Work Ombudsman website has a list of all the modern awards. To find an award for your specific industry or job, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
What is an enterprise bargaining agreement?
An enterprise bargaining agreement is an agreement registered with the Fair Work Commission, and contains terms of employment between an employer and its employees.
Under the Fair Work Act 2009, employers and employees have the right to negotiate terms and conditions of employment through collective bargaining in good faith.
Enterprise agreements are not binding unless these have been registered, assessed, and approved by the Fair Work Commission.
An enterprise agreement may apply to one business or to a group of businesses of one employer.
An enterprise agreement can change the pay and entitlements that employees receive under a modern award, but the employees must be better off overall
What kinds of enterprise agreements are there?
Enterprise agreements can cover a single employer and the employees at a single enterprise, or it can be between two or more employers and the employees at their enterprises.
A greenfields agreement is a type of enterprise agreement that is made by a new enterprise even before hiring employees.
What should an enterprise agreement contain or include?
To be valid, an enterprise agreement must provide include:
- The term of the agreement.
- The agreement must also provide for a procedure to resolve any disputes.
- The agreement must also allow individual employees to enter individual flexibility arrangements.
- It must also provide consultation obligations about major changes in the workplace that may significantly affect employees.
An enterprise agreement usually deals with similar matters as in a modern awards but can extend to other terms of employment unique to the business or industry.
What terms must an enterprise agreement not include?
The Fair Work Commission evaluates and reviews all enterprise agreements before they registered. An enterprise agreement cannot include
- any term that is discriminatory or objectionable.
- It cannot confer an entitlement in relation to unfair dismissal to employees who have not completed the minimum employment period.
- It cannot exclude or modify the protections of unfair dismissal that will prejudice a person.
- It cannot contain terms that are inconsistent with the industrial action provisions.
What happens when my job is not covered either by an award or a registered agreement?
The National Minimum Wage and the National Employment Standards apply to you as the minimum terms and conditions of your employment.
All employees and workers in Australia are covered by the National Employment Standards.
No employment contract, enterprise agreement or other type of registered agreement can provide terms and conditions of employment that are less favorable than the national minimum wage or the National Employment Standards.
What are the minimum terms provided in the National Employment Standards?
The National Employment Standards provide 10 minimum entitlements on:
- maximum weekly hours of work,
- flexible working arrangements,
- parental leave entitlements, annual leave,
- personal, carers leave and compassionate leave,
- community service leave,
- long service leave,
- public holidays,
- notice of termination and redundancy pay,
- the Fair Work Information Statement.