The better off overall test does not require the Fair Work Commission to enquire into each employee's individual circumstances. The Commission may assume, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, that where a class of employees to which an employee belongs is better off overall under the agreement, then the particular employee will be better off.
The phrase class of employees is intended to refer to a group of employees covered by the enterprise agreement who share common characteristics that enable them to be treated as a group when the Commission applies the better off overall test.An example is where the employees are in the same classification, grade or job level, with the same working patterns.
An illustrative example is provided in the Explanatory Memorandum:
Moss Hardware and Garden Supplies Pty Ltd makes an enterprise agreement to cover approximately 1800 employees working at its national chain of retail garden and hardware supplies outlets. All of these employees are award covered employees. The 7 classifications under the agreement broadly correlate to 7 classifications under the relevant modern award. Because there will be many employees within each classification under the agreement and the agreement affects each employee within a classification in the same way, the Commission could group employees together when assessing the employees against the better off overall test. It is intended that the Commission could assess a hypothetical employee in each of the classifications under the agreement against the relevant classification under the modern award.
If the Commission were satisfied that the agreement affected each employee within the classification in the same way, and that the agreement passed the better off overall test for the hypothetical employee within the classification, the Commission could be satisfied that the agreement passed the better off overall test for each award covered employee and prospective award covered employee within that classification.