Enterprise agreements are negotiated and made in accordance with 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).
How do I know which agreement I am covered by?
Employees can check which agreement covers them by visiting the Current NTPS Enterprise Agreement page on the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment website and searching for their classification or occupation or by contacting their agency human resource team.
The bargaining process
In the NTPS, the enterprise bargaining process involves the following:
The Employer to give Notice to employees of their representational rights
At the time it has been agreed to commence 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 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Those involved in the bargaining process, including bargaining representatives, are required to bargain in good faith. The bargaining representatives will agree on the scheduling of bargaining meetings and other related activities (e.g. drafting agreements).
Who are bargaining representatives?
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.
What is ‘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 do not require 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.
How will I be kept informed of what happens during the bargaining process?
Employees will be kept informed through bulletins and information sheets from the Commissioner for Public Employment. These will be available on the Enterprise Agreement Negotiations website.
Employees who are members of a union involved in the enterprise bargaining process should also receive information from their union.
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 seven days before a vote is held.
How will I get 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).
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 Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). 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.
What happens if I do not 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.
Is the voting process anonymous?
The voting process is designed to record who has voted, but not how they voted. This is for two reasons: to ensure that each employee only votes once and that employees are not subjected to pressure or undue influence to vote a particular way.
How will I know the outcome of the vote?
After the vote is counted the Commissioner for Public Employment will advise employees of the result. This advice will also be found on the Enterprise Agreement Negotiations webpage.
What happens if the majority of employees approve 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.
What happens if the majority of employees do 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 in accordance 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 in accordance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
Further information on the Fair Work Commission’s approval process is available at www.fwc.gov.au
Commencement date of the new agreement
An enterprise agreement comes into operation seven 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 commencement date.
Further information, including updates on the status of negotiations for a particular enterprise agreement, can be found at Enterprise Agreement Negotiations website.
Last updated: 25 February 2021
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