Bargaining is the process by which the parties to a proposed enterprise agreement negotiate the terms and conditions which will be included in an agreement, including the scope of coverage.
Bargaining helps you and your employees (and/or bargaining representatives) to negotiate an agreement that will take into account both your business needs and the interests of your employees.
For more information, please see our About enterprise bargaining page
In order to successfully make an agreement, there are some actions you must perform within particular timeframes in the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act).
It is very important to comply with the timeframes. If you perform actions outside of the required timeframes, the Commission may not be able to approve your agreement. If this happens, you may need to start the agreement making process again, so it is important to read the rules about timeframes carefully.
The timeframes in the Act are usually expressed as a number of days before or after a particular act or event occurred or is to occur. When applying these timeframes, make sure that you do not count the day on which the relevant act or event occurred or is to occur.
For more information see section 36(1) of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cth) as in force on 25 June 2009 (see section 40A of the Fair Work Act 2009).
When you are ready to lodge the agreement for approval by the Fair Work Commission, it should be accompanied by a number of forms, including:
It is wise to familiarise yourself with these forms at the outset so you are aware of the information that will need to be provided and so that you can have all the necessary information available to lodge your application within 14 days after the agreement is made.
You will need to communicate with your employees throughout the process for approving an enterprise agreement.
You will need to provide employees with a copy of the NERR, access to the agreement and any incorporated material, inform employees of the details of the vote, explain the terms and effect of the agreement, and keep employees informed during the bargaining and approval process.
Consider your usual method of communication and whether you have any employees with special needs or circumstances who may require additional assistance, such as junior employees or employees who speak English as a second language.
You must consider the needs and circumstances of employees and take reasonable steps to communicate with them, for example by ensuring they understand the terms of the agreement and how it will affect them.
It’s important to keep records of any communications between yourself and employees. This may include copies of emails, memos or material provided to employees during bargaining. You will need to include copies of these materials when you apply to have your agreement approved.