By Charles Power
Federal government data current for the March 2019 quarter shows that enterprise agreements (EBAs) are providing for annual pay increases of 2.7%, which is down slightly from the December quarter.
Public sector employees covered by newly approved EBAs are faring worse than private sector employees, with an annual pay increase of 2.4% compared with the average increase of 2.9% for private sector employees.
EBAs covered 37.9% of Australian employees in May 2018. Awards cover 21% of the workforce.
The sectors with the highest average annual increases under EBAs are construction, rental hiring and real estate services and administrative and support services. The low paying sectors are information media and telecommunications, agriculture, forestry and fishing.
EBA pay increases are highest in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, and lowest in Western Australia.
EBAs made with unions achieved an average annual increase of 2.7%, compared with 2.4% for non-union EBAs.
An example of a recently made private sector enterprise agreement is the Officeworks store operations agreement. This provides for:
- a 10% pay rise over 4 years (2% +2% +3% +3%);
- part-time workers to increase their core hours to their average over the previous 12 months;
- casual conversion rights;
- one-off pro rata payment of $530 for its full-time, part-time and casual team members;
- two days’ paid and three days’ unpaid family and domestic violence leave; and
- restoration of penalty rates payable under the Retail Award.
Meanwhile in a recent decision, Bachy Soletanche Australia Pty Ltd (2019), the Fair Work Commission ruled against approval of an enterprise agreement because the employees covered by it were not given proper access to the underlying award before voting on the agreement.
The employees unanimously voted in favour of the agreement after being supplied with a copy of the agreement, but not the parent award. The agreement incorporated the award into the agreement.
The employer argued that the all employees could access the award through the internet and would have provided the award on request. However, the Commission ruled that a preparedness to provide a copy of the award upon request is not sufficient to comply with the statutory requirements.