Your questions answered: Are we allowed to limit the number of bargaining representatives when negotiating an enterprise agreement?

By Portner Press on April 26th, 2019
  1. Industrial Instruments
  2. Enterprise Agreements

Q
Is an employer legally allowed to place a limit on the number of bargaining representatives that can participate during an enterprise agreement (EA) negotiation process?

We have an EA that currently stipulates a total of seven bargaining representatives can be nominated for the purpose of the EA, but we have received eight nominations. Are we legally allowed to hold a vote among employees to have this number reduced to seven, as detailed in the EA?

A
There is no prohibition on you asking employees to vote to reduce the nominated bargaining representatives from eight to seven.

In suggesting any vote, you should keep in mind that the obligation to negotiate EAs in good faith includes an obligation to recognise and bargain with the other bargaining representatives who have been appointed to negotiate the agreement.

As such, if your employees insisted on eight bargaining representatives, you could only refuse to accept this situation with the approval of the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

The FWC would only permit this if you convinced it that the existence of eight, rather than seven, bargaining representatives unduly disrupted the bargaining process.

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