What is an Enterprise Agreement (EA)?
An Enterprise Agreement is an agreement negotiated and entered into between one or more employers and a group of employees that sets out the terms and conditions of employment. It allows your business to step out of traditional award coverage and introduce employment conditions that better suit the needs of your business and workers. EAs set parameters for labour costs, workplace flexibility and decision-making processes – crucial areas for the efficient operation of organisations.
For an EA to gain approval, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) must be satisfied that employees are better off overall under the EA than they would be under the relevant modern award. An EA may be instigated by an organisation, or at the request of employees. However, once the bargaining process begins, your business is obliged to see it through to completion.
Our consultants have the experience and expertise to ensure that you are fully aware of the benefits and potential drawbacks to EAs. We can help you develop a strategy to increase the acceptance of your EA at the negotiating table, by employees, the FWC and/or the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
Is an EA right for your business?
An EA allows your business to step out of traditional award coverage and introduce employment conditions that better suit the needs of your business and staff. For an EA to be approved, the FWC must be satisfied that employees are better off overall with the EA than they would be under the relevant modern award.
The Victorian Chamber can help you determine if an EA is the best way forward for your business, and lead you through the bargaining process. As a member, you can access our wealth of information, knowledge and resources.
Clarify organisational goals
The commencement of enterprise bargaining should ideally be after the identification of organisational goals. The goals should be owned by decision makers and shared with employees and stakeholders. With defined and clear objectives, businesses have a reference point to determine the direction of bargaining and overcome obstacles that are frequently encountered when bargaining is underway. The organisational goals can become central to your communication framework to engage employees, and to respond to negotiators with consistency and clarity.
The experience of our workplace relations consultants has proven that clarifying organisational goals gives businesses the initial platform to achieve the outcomes they seek from bargaining.
Enterprise bargaining sets parameters for labour costs, management flexibility and decision-making – crucial areas for the efficient operation of organisations. Getting EAs right not only avoids costly mistakes, it achieves positive outcomes for employers and employees for the term of the agreement.
Get the right mix at the negotiation table
The Victorian Chamber identifies 14 distinct steps in the enterprise bargaining process, starting with determining the organisation’s objectives.
Encouraging key employees who can add real value to discussions may be worthwhile. Unfortunately, this does not occur often enough as many businesses view enterprise bargaining negotiations as a union matter, which is not the case. While union representatives are often able to participate in negotiations, union membership is less than 16% in Australian workplaces and only 11% in the private sector.
Employers are likely to undertake the EA process every three or four years. Organisations need to be assured they have the best negotiators present because even incremental concessions add up considerably over the lifespan of an agreement. Furthermore, once a new provision is agreed to and included in an EA, it is very hard to remove from subsequent agreements. The Victorian Chamber can provide the technical knowledge and strategic acumen required to achieve a positive result.
Why engage the Victorian Chamber?
As Victoria’s most influential employer group, servicing over 15,000 Victorian businesses every year, our workplace relations experts proactively manage the enterprise bargaining process across a broad range of industries and sectors.
- Design and facilitate workshops with senior managers, executives or boards to assist the organisation determine the objectives and parameters of the bargaining process
- Undertake detailed benchmarking exercises of competitors and industry standards
- Advise on enterprise bargaining negotiation strategies at any or all stages of the process, including in response to industrial action.
- Engage in bargaining ‘at the table’ to facilitate the process with employers and employees
- Draft and lodge EAs for approval
- Ensure compliance with legal obligations including the duty to bargain in good faith and adhere to strict procedures and rules for agreement approval
- Deal with unions on all workplace matters
As Victoria’s most influential employer group, our experts proactively manage the enterprise bargaining process. The Victorian Chamber can help lead your business to develop an EA to assist productivity for years to come. Contact us online or through the Workplace Relations Advice Line at 03 8662 5222.