Enterprise agreements are negotiated and made under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Enterprise agreement negotiations in the Northern Territory public sector (NTPS) take place between:
- the Commissioner for Public Employment (the employer)
- NTPS agencies and employees’ bargaining representatives (usually unions representing employees).
Employees can check which agreement covers them by visiting the Current NTPS Enterprise Agreement page and searching for their classification or occupation or by contacting their agency human resource team.
In the NTPS, the enterprise bargaining process involves the below.
1. The employer to give notice to employees of their representational rights
At the time it has been agreed to start bargaining for a new agreement, the Commissioner for Public Employment will provide all employees who will be covered by the agreement a copy of the notice of employee representational rights.
This is a requirement under the Act.
2. Start of negotiations
Those involved in the bargaining process, including bargaining representatives, must bargain in good faith.
The bargaining representatives will agree on the scheduling of bargaining meetings and other related activities (e.g. drafting agreements).
In the NTPS, the following are bargaining representatives:
- the Commissioner for Public Employment (who is the employer of all NTPS employees)
- any union who has a member that would be covered by the agreement
- any person specified in writing as their bargaining representative by an employee who would be covered by the agreement.
‘Good faith bargaining’
The following are the good faith bargaining requirements that a bargaining representative for a proposed enterprise agreement must meet:
- attending, and participating in, meetings at reasonable times
- disclosing relevant information (other than confidential or commercially sensitive information) in a timely manner
- responding to proposals made by other bargaining representatives for the agreement in a timely manner
- giving genuine consideration to the proposals of other bargaining representatives for the agreement, and giving reasons for the bargaining representative's responses to those proposals
- refraining from capricious or unfair conduct that undermines freedom of association or collective bargaining
- recognising and bargaining with the other bargaining representatives for the agreement.
The good faith bargaining requirements don't need a bargaining representative to:
- make concessions during bargaining for the agreement or
- reach agreement on the terms that are to be included in the agreement.
Bargaining process update
Employees will be kept informed through bulletins and information sheets from the Commissioner for Public Employment.
Employees who are members of a union involved in the enterprise bargaining process should also receive information from their union.
3. Bargaining representatives reach agreement
Once the bargaining representatives have reached agreement, the proposed new agreement, together with explanatory information, will be provided to employees to consider for at least 7 days before a vote is held.
Access to the proposed agreement
In most cases, employees will have access to the proposed agreement and relevant explanatory information through links sent to them via email.
For those employees who do not have access to emails or the internet, agencies will take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees have access to hard copies of the proposed agreement and explanatory information (e.g. copies available in lunchrooms).
4. Employees have their say (the vote)
An important part of the enterprise bargaining process is the ballot process.
This gives employees to be covered by the proposed agreement an opportunity to say whether they agree or not with the proposed terms and conditions.
There is no prescribed method for voting in the Act.
A vote can occur by postal ballot, electronically (e.g. email) or by other means.
Information about when and how the ballot will be conducted is provided to employees at the appropriate time.
Who can vote
All employees are encouraged to vote to have their say. However, voting is not compulsory and it is your choice if you choose to participate in the ballot process.
This is your opportunity to voice your approval or disapproval of the proposed new terms and conditions.
The voting process is anonymous.
It's designed to record who has voted, but not how they voted.
This is for 2 reasons:
- to ensure that each employee only votes once
- that employees are not subjected to pressure or undue influence to vote a particular way.
Outcome of the vote
After the vote is counted, the Commissioner for Public Employment will advise employees of the result.
Read the advice on the enterprise agreement negotiations webpage.
If the majority approves the proposed agreement
An agreement is made when the majority of employees who cast a valid vote approve the proposed agreement.
However, before the agreement can operate it must be approved by the Fair Work Commission and meet certain Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) requirements.
If the majority does not approve the proposed agreement
If a majority of employees who voted disapprove of the proposed agreement, the bargaining representatives may return to bargaining.
Terms and conditions of employment will continue to apply under with the existing enterprise agreement, even if its expiry date has been passed.
Fair Work Commission approval
If a majority of employees who voted approved the proposed agreement, the Commissioner for Public Employment will lodge the agreement with the Fair Work Commission for its approval under the Act.
For more information on the approval process, go to the Fair Work Commission website.
Start date of the new agreement
An enterprise agreement comes into operation 7 days after approval by the Fair Work Commission, or at a later date if specified in the agreement.
The Commissioner for Public Employment will provide updates to employees covered by the new enterprise agreement of the Fair Work Commission’s approval and the new agreement’s start date.
For more information, including updates on the status of negotiations for a particular enterprise agreement, read enterprise agreement negotiations.
Last updated: 25 February 2021
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