Enterprise bargaining is the process of an employer bargaining with its employees to determine working conditions and entitlements. Once agreed upon, these are recorded in an enterprise agreement. UQ's enterprise bargaining process is regulated by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).

Bargaining for a proposed enterprise agreement begins when the employer agrees to bargain, or initiates bargaining. There is no set timeframe in which bargaining must be completed, although it is usually beneficial for all parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible.

At UQ, we have a single Enterprise Agreement which covers eligible:

  • academic staff
  • professional staff
  • language teachers in the Institute of Continuing and TESOL Education.

The bargaining process

The bargaining process usually begins with bargaining representatives submitting a log of claims, which is a list of key priorities to be discussed. The process then follows 3 steps:

  1. The bargaining representatives meet to negotiate a draft Agreement.
  2. Once the Agreement content has been agreed in principle between the bargaining representatives, employees are asked to vote on the Agreement. Voting is optional.
  3. If a valid majority of employees vote in favour of the Agreement, the Agreement is sent to the Fair Work Commission for certification.

Enterprise agreements

An enterprise agreement is an agreement made between an employer and its employees that sets out working conditions and entitlements.

The relevant modern awards provide the minimum conditions of employments for most UQ employees. In order for an enterprise gareement to be certified by the Fair Work Commission, it must result in staff being 'better off overall' than if they were covered by the modern award.

Participating in enterprise bargaining

Employees have the right to represent themselves or nominate a bargaining representative to participate in the negotiations on their behalf.

If you are a member of a union, your union will automatically represent you in enterprise bargaining.

At UQ, the unions who are party to the negotiations are the:

A number of staff members have also nominated to participate in the negotiations as individual bargaining representatives.

You can participate in the enterprise bargaining process by:

  • making comments, asking questions and providing feedback to the Enterprise Agreement team
  • reading staff updates
  • providing feedback directly to your union or appointing an enterprise bargaining representative
  • voting on the draft Agreement.

Voting

All employees to be covered by the proposed Agreement will be notified 7 days before voting on an Agreement begins. Employees will be provided with access to a copy of the proposed Enterprise Agreement and other explanatory materials.

Employees will also be notified of the time and place that the vote will take place and the voting method that will be used.

If a majority is not reached following the vote, then the bargaining representatives may resume negotiations.

Fair Work Commission certification

Once a majority of voters support a new enterprise agreement through a ‘Yes’ vote, the Agreement must be lodged with the Fair Work Commission for approval.

The Fair Work Commission reviews the agreement to ensure that it meets all of the requirements of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), including the ‘better off overall test’. This test requires that employees are better off overall than the relevant modern awards, including:

Once the Commission certifies the Agreement, UQ is notified and the Agreement comes into effect on the date specified.