They are often touted as one of the beneficial parts of Australia’s Fair Work legislation.
When done right, they can help improve the bottom line of a business.
The Coles and H & M enterprise agreement decisions what can happen when a business gets them wrong.
With the H & M rejection still fresh in our minds, here are a few lessons that we should learn from them.
Make Sure The Application Filled Out Correctly
Always double or triple check any form for errors BEFORE you send it off to the Fair Work Commission
This would be like taking a test and spelling your name wrong.
An application not filled out correctly means that the FWC needs to contact you to get the right information to amend the application.
This also means that the member hearing the application will have to give their reasons for amendment.
Undertakings Are NEVER A Good Thing
If I had my way, there would be no such thing as undertakings.
As far as I am concerned, an enterprise agreement pass as or it gets rejected.
IMNSHO, undertakings show that the company hasn’t paid attention to the finer details of the agreement.
I believe that far too many undertakings were made to the H&M enterprise agreement before it was rejected.
This indicates to anyone who reads the decision that company the was out of their depth.
BOOT Is Big Stuff These Days
While ensuring an enterprise agreement passes BOOT has always been a rule, a number of failures are bringing it to attention.
The Better Off Overall Test is there to ensure that all employees are better off overall with an enterprise agreement.
If they aren’t, then the agreement can’t be approved.
One reason why H & M’s proposed agreement failed BOOT was because the better off period was far too long to be realistic.
If you do have plans to roll up allowances into a new hourly rate, make sure the BOOT period is a normal pay cycle.
When In Doubt…
This is going to sound a bit like a broken record to regular readers, when in doubt, seek help.
If you are only involved with enterprise agreements every few years, there is a good chance that your skills and knowledge are rusty.
If unions take bargaining seriously enough to run training sessions for their delegates, company representatives should do the same.
Another benefit of using someone external from the company is that they have no history with the people on the other side of the table.
While making an enterprise agreement isn’t a difficult process, unprepared businesses make it look like it is.
Isn’t it time that businesses started viewing wage matters as something important to their greatest asset?