You must meet the timeframes when you make an enterprise agreement. If you miss the deadlines, we may not be able to approve it.
The laws covering agreement making changed on 6 June 2023. Use this information if your notification time is before 6 June 2023. If notification time for your application is on or after 6 June 2023, see Changes to making Agreements for a summary of the new laws.
When you make an agreement, you have to take each step at the right time. If you complete a step and it is not within the timeframe, you may need to start the process again.
The dates can be complex. We explain what the different dates mean in the process. For single enterprise agreements, our Date calculator can help you avoid errors.
The Fair Work Act 2009 contains the dates.
If you apply late
Single and multi-enterprise agreements
You need to give us the reason you missed the deadline. We will decide if this is a fair reason to extend the deadline.
For example, the 14-day period may end on a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday. In this situation, you may give us this reason when you lodge on the next business day.
We cannot extend the 14-day period for any reason.
Definitions of dates when you make an agreement
The Fair Work Act usually refers to the number of days before or after an action. When you count the days, you must not include the day of the action. The next action must be a whole or ‘clear’ day after the previous event.
‘Nominal expiry date’
The nominal expiry date shows how long the agreement will be active. This date cannot be more than four years after the Commission approves the agreement. This is not the same as the date the agreement starts.
After an agreement passes its nominal expiry date, it does not automatically stop. It will stay in place until:
- the agreement is terminated
- the agreement is replaced.
See section 186(5) of the Fair Work Act.
The ‘notification time’ (or ‘bargaining date’)
The notification time for a proposed agreement is the start of the process.
It may be the date:
- the employer agrees to bargain, or starts to bargain with employees
- the employer receives a request to bargain for a replacement agreement
- the Commission issues a majority support determination
- a scope order starts for the proposed agreement
- a single interest employer authorisation comes into operation
- a supported bargaining authorisation comes into operation.
See section 173(2) of the Fair Work Act.
The ‘NERR date’
When you make a single- enterprise agreement, you must give all employees a Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERR). The deadline to do this is 14 days after the notification date. The NERR tells them they have the right to have a bargaining representative. The last date you gave the notice to your employees is the NERR date. Employees cannot start to vote until 21 clear days after the NERR date.
You do not need to provide a NERR to your employees if:
- your notification time is on or after 6 June 2023 AND
- you are making a multi-enterprise agreement AND
- you inform them of their right to be represented with enough time and in a way that they have a reasonable opportunity to be represented in bargaining for the agreement.
The Statement of Principles on Genuine Agreement outlines what other requirements will apply to you.
See section 173(3) of the Fair Work Act.
‘Access period’ dates
For agreements when the notification time was before 6 June 2023, the access period is the 7-day period immediately before the vote starts. It must be 7 clear days. During this time, employees must have access to:
- a copy of the agreement
- information on how to vote.
The access period can be part of the 21 days between the NERR date and the start of voting.
The Statement of Principles on Genuine Agreement outlines what other requirements apply if your notification time is on or after 6 June 2023.
The vote can take place in a single day or over several weeks. The start date is the first day employees can vote on the agreement.
This must be at least:
- 21 clear days after the date you gave employees the last NERR
- 7 clear days after the start of the access period
The end date is the last day of voting. Find out about the process to vote on an agreement.
See section 181(2) of the Fair Work Act.
The date the agreement is ‘made’
A majority of employees need to vote to accept an agreement. The date that happens is the date the agreement is officially ‘made’. This is important because you must apply for approval of the agreement within 14 days of this date.
Test time is the date you lodge the application for approval with the Commission. In the Better Off Overall Test, the ‘test time’ is the date we use to compare the rates of pay in the agreement and in the award.
See section 193(6) of the Fair Work Act.