Content being moved into policy or guidelines

Last updated: 30 Nov 2016

This page is: current

Bargaining policy Q&A

Download the MS Word version of this page.

Does the bargaining policy require cuts to employment conditions?


Employment conditions include things annual leave, personal/carer's leave, allowances, overtime, penalty rates, parental leave, redundancy payments etc.

The bargaining policy does not require cuts to these existing employment conditions.

Enterprise agreements continue to set out employment conditions and these remain enforceable.

Some people have confused administrative clauses that represent HR policy and procedures, or special arrangements for unions, with actual employment conditions. These types of clauses are not employment conditions. 

What type of content needs to be moved into policy or guidelines?

Clauses that are administrative in nature are more appropriately contained in HR policies or procedures. For example, process detail about leave applications, the forms you need to complete, the systems you need to use, the steps you need to take etc.

It is the procedural requirements relating to the administration of employment conditions that are more appropriately contained in HR policies.

Why are clauses about detailed processes been removed from the enterprise agreement?

The bargaining policy requires enterprise agreements to be clear and easy to read. This is to ensure that employees can clearly understand what they are entitled to.

Over the past 20 years, clauses relating to HR processes or practices have continued to creep into enterprise agreements through each bargaining round. The cumulative effect of this is that many public sector enterprise agreements have become difficult to read and are inflexible.

In some cases, HR has not been able to make sensible changes to policy and procedures to improve productivity in an agency because arrangements have been locked into the enterprise agreement. There are also many examples throughout agreements of clauses being in conflict with other clauses. This is not helpful to agencies or their employees.

It is in the interests of both agencies and their employees for agreements to be flexible. This enables all of us to respond quickly and appropriately to changing business circumstances. This is the productivity that will be achieved through this round of bargaining.

What if there is a disagreement about a policy?

There are various review mechanisms available should there be disagreement about how a workplace policy is applied. These include:

    1. established internal agency procedures that deal with disputes about HR policies,
    2. review of actions provisions in the Public Service Act 1999,
    3. protections in the Fair Work Act 2009, and
    4. other legislation relating to matters such as antidiscrimination.

The review mechanisms available will depend on the circumstances.

Is the removal of administrative process only of benefit to the employer?

No, the removal of administrative process can also benefit employees.

The inclusion of rigid and detailed processes in enterprise agreements can prevent an agency from being able to manage situations sensibly depending on the circumstances. .

For example, the inclusion of detailed step-by-step procedures about performance management can be detrimental to an employee. If the enterprise agreement locks an agency and employee into a lengthy performance improvement process, with many steps and administrative requirements needing to be met, this can negatively impact on an employee.

If an agreement required a 6 month process to be undertaken, but the employee's performance improved to a satisfactory level after one month, the agency and employee would still have to keep the process going for the full 6 months. Otherwise, they would be in breach of the enterprise agreement.