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Enterprise bargaining

Last updated January 2024

This chapter explains your rights and obligations during enterprise bargaining.

What is enterprise bargaining?

Definition: Enterprise Bargaining

Enterprise bargaining (or collective bargaining) is the process of negotiating the terms and conditions of employment between an employer and a group of employees.

Enterprise bargaining is a central feature of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) scheme for making statutory agreements. It is the primary means of securing employment terms and conditions different from those contained in modern awards.

From an employer’s perspective, enterprise bargaining involves several steps, including:

  • identifying who is representing the employees and arranging meetings with them;
  • conveying your position for the content of the proposed agreement and providing relevant information to support your position;
  • listening to other bargaining representatives and considering their position on the content of the proposed agreement;
  • developing a written agreement to put to employees for a vote;
  • communicating with employees about the bargaining process and the content of the proposed enterprise agreement;
  • dealing with protected industrial action taken by employees in support of their proposals for the agreement;
  • putting the proposed agreement to a vote of employees along with an explanation of its content; and
  • getting an agreement that is approved by the employees and the Fair Work Commission (FWC) so that it can take effect under the FW Act.

When will you undertake enterprise bargaining?

You must undertake enterprise bargaining to make an enterprise agreement.

Definition: Enterprise Agreement

An enterprise agreement (or collective agreement) is an agreement that can be made between a national system employer and some or all its employees who are employed when the agreement is made. This agreement regulates minimum wages and employment conditions. An enterprise agreement may be a single-enterprise agreement, a multi-enterprise agreement or a greenfields agreement.
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