Site under re-construction.
New workplace laws come into effect on July 1st 2009. This site will be
updated shortly to reflect the new Fair Work laws.
regarding wages and conditions can be either
- collective agreements
- individual Australian
Workplace Agreements (AWAs).
In addition, each employee
has a contract of employment. It may be in writing or verbal.
The Federal government's
"Workchoices" laws came into effect on March 27th 2006 and make
significant changes to the way collective and individual AWA
will protect some award
conditions when new workplace
agreements are negotiated. These are:
- Agreements can last
longer (up to 5 years)
- Once agreements reach
their expiry date, they do not necessarily remain in force. Wages and
conditions can drop to the safety net level of an Award or the Fair Pay
- Individual AWA
agreements can be offered at any time.
conditions are not specifically dealt with and replaced in the new
agreement then the
provisions of the relevant award will continue to apply.
rates, including for work on weekends and public holidays,
and rest breaks,
payments and bonuses
New Fairness Test.
For both collective
and individual agreements (AWAs) offered after 7th May 2007, a
"fairness test" must be applied, (provided the employee will
than $75,000 pa and the job is included in the scope of an award).
The new test states that
if any of the above items 1-7 are removed employees must receive 'fair
compensation' for that loss.
This could be a higher
amount of pay, but could also be things such as a free parking space or
film tickets. The test will be conducted by the Workplace Authority
(formerly called Office of Workplace Services), which can order an
agreement be changed if it fails the test.
This puts back in place part of the 'no-disadvantage' test
that used to apply before the Workchoices laws were introduced in March
2006. (The federal government states it was never its intention that
these conditions would be traded away without compensation.)
Note: existing AWAs entered
betwen March 2006 and 6th May 2007 will not be changed regardless of
whether they fail the fairness test.
An employer may have a
collective employment agreement with its workforce. The agreement may
have been negotiated with a trade union (on behalf of the
workforce), or just with the workforce (ie, no union involvement).
An agreement can set some
or all terms and conditions of employment. That is, the agreement can
over-ride some or all Award minimum conditions. Collective agreements
must be voted on by employees, and cannot last longer than 5 years.
However many employers do
not have collective agreements. In that case employment conditions for
most jobs will
be determined by an Award or, in Victoria, an Industry Sector Minimum
Wage Order (see Awards and Minimum Wage Orders).
can help employees find out whether the employer has a collective
agreement (relevant to the employee's job), and what it says.
WORKPLACE AGREEMENTS are no longer able to be made. Existing agreements
will continue until their expiry date.
An employer which is a
company (or which is located in Victoria or a Territory) can at any
time offer an employee an
agreement, known as an AUSTRALIAN WORKPLACE AGREEMENT or AWA.
As with any important
document it is important to get advice before signing an AWA. AWAs
can significantly alter wages and conditions (upwards or downwards)
that an employee would otherwise be
entitled to receive, so advice should be sought.
If given to an existing
employee, 14 days must be allowed for the employee to consider and get
advice about an AWA before signing. It is unlawful to force an existing
employee to sign an AWA.
given to a new employee, five
days must be allowed to consider before
signing. An employer is permitted to make the signing of an AWA a
condition of starting the new job.
In both cases the employee
must be given an explanation of the
effects of the AWA, and an information statement about his or her
can analyse an AWA and advise about what it means, and what it leaves