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Ai Group welcomes Federal Government action to restore common sense to enterprise agreement making

"The announcement by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash that legislative amendments will be introduced to redress the Fair Work Commission's current overly technical approach to assessing enterprise agreements at the approval stage is very welcome. The announcement follows many representations by Ai Group on this issue over recent months," Innes Willox, Ai Group Chief Executive, said today.

"Enterprise bargaining has become a minefield for employers, employees and bargaining representatives, partly because of problems with the drafting of the Fair Work Act and partly because of the arguably punctilious manner in which the Fair Work Commission is approaching its task of assessing enterprise agreements which are lodged for approval.

"It is vital that Recommendation 20.1 of the recent Productivity Commission inquiry into the Workplace Relations Framework is implemented without delay, and that all Parliamentarians support the legislation. Recommendation 20.1 is:  

"The Australian Government should amend the Fair Work Act to:

  • allow the FWC wider discretion to overlook minor procedural or technical errors when approving an agreement, as long as it is satisfied that the employees were not likely to have been placed at a disadvantage because of an unmet procedural requirement.
  • extend the scope of this discretion to include minor errors or defects relating to the issuing or content of a notice of employee representational rights. 

"The overly technical manner in which the bargaining laws are currently being applied is causing problems for all parties involved in enterprise agreement making," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347