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Top 5 Tips When Negotiating an Enterprise Agreement

Date: 12 April 2018

Labour, Employment and Workplace Safety partner, Alice DeBoos, shares her top five tips to keep in mind when negotiating an enterprise agreement.


Are you about to start negotiating an enterprise agreement? Here are 5 key things you need to do before you start on the journey:

  1. Strategise - Labour is likely to be if not the biggest, one of the biggest operating expenses of your business so think of your enterprise agreement as one of the most important commercial contracts the business will enter in the next three years. Sit down early with broad range of stakeholders: operational and finance and determine precisely what you need to achieve from the agreement Line up business strategy with the enterprise agreement strategy. Draw up a detailed strategy with your minimum acceptable outcomes and contingency plans.
  2. Logistics - Logistics are important. Who will be on the bargaining committee from your side. Where will meetings be held and how often. Who in the finance and operations will support the bargaining committee and provide information as required. How long do you plan for it to take.
  3. Process - The Fair Work Act has very detailed processes for bargaining and approval of enterprise agreements. Get these right from the outset. The NERR is key. Get the form right, get the scope right and ensure you have complied with the requirements of the Act. Understand the procedural requirements of commencing bargaining, conducting bargaining and the approval process as every box will need to be ticked if the EBA is to be approved.
  4. Communication - Employee communication plans are one of the most important elements in successful enterprise bargaining. Don’t allow a vacuum as it will be filled and don't allow unions to set the agenda. Regular open engagement with employees about the bargaining process from the top will assist in getting it over the line. It's an agreement between employer and employees so involve the employees in the process through a thorough and well thought out communication strategy.
  5. Compliance check - The Act has strict requirements for agreement content. Have a full compliance check done of any drafts. Ensure that it meets the BOOT, does not contain non-permitted matters and does contain all mandatory clauses. This will save delay, heartache and undertakings once it goes to the Fair Work Commission for approval.

If you plan carefully around each of these items enterprise bargaining is likely to be shorter, more productive and yield a better result for your business.

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