The Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 (the Secure Jobs Better Pay Act) amends the enterprise bargaining provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act). Some of these amendments commenced on 7 December 2022 and further changes are due to come into effect on 6 June 2023. These amendments will have a significant impact on our work and those who use our services. We are proposing to implement a number of initiatives to assist users to understand and navigate the amendments.
As outlined in a statement by President Justice Hatcher on 8 December 2022, we are committed to implementing these amendments in an open and transparent way and have been listening closely to our users and other experts.
We have established the Enterprise Agreement and Bargaining Advisory Group (EAB Advisory Group) which will meet from early May 2023. This group consists of employer and employee organisations who represent their members interests. They will contribute feedback and advice as we work to design services that meet user needs.
The new provisions place more focus on our role in facilitating bargaining. The President has provided a commitment that we will ensure appropriate support is provided to parties during bargaining. In recognition of the need for increased support, Justice Hatcher recently appointed Deputy President Hampton as the National Practice Leader for Bargaining. See the President’s Statement from 4 April 2023 for more information.
The new practice area will ensure functional separation between bargaining matters and applications for approval of enterprise agreements within the Commission. However, we recognise that for our users bargaining and agreement making are part of the same process. Accordingly, our proposed resources will support users across the whole process.
Bargaining initiatives to support you
We are proposing a series of bargaining initiatives to assist users understand and navigate the changes to bargaining We are currently consulting with the EAB Advisory Group on a range of proposed initiatives to ensure we are meeting the needs of our users. Some of the proposed initiatives include:
- A Member led information video series
- A Masterclass series
- Information packs about the amendments and the Commission’s processes
- Promotion of the Cooperative Workplaces Program which has been renamed as the Collaborative Approaches Program
Over the coming weeks, we will be publishing further information about different aspects of the bargaining amendments, starting with an information pack about the new processes for protected action ballot order applications. All information and resources will be published on our website.
We will also be distributing information through employer and employer organisations. If you have any feedback, please email us at email@example.com.
Overview of the new bargaining provisions
The Secure Jobs Better Pay Act amends the bargaining provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009. Key amendments include:
- removing the Australian Electoral Commission as the default agent to conduct protected action ballots
- giving the Commission the function of approving ‘eligible protected action ballot agents’, and requiring the Commission to review that approval at least every 3 years
- a requirement for all bargaining representatives involved in a proposed enterprise agreement to participate in a Commission conciliation conference during the protected action ballot period
- new ‘intractable bargaining declaration’ provisions
- new multi-enterprise bargaining streams.
See Secure jobs better pay – what’s changing for more information.
Attachment A to the President’s Statement from 4 April 2023 also provides an overview of the changes.