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Who can an enterprise agreement apply to?

Enterprise agreements in the Commonwealth public sector generally apply to employees who are not in senior executive service (SES), or equivalent, positions.

The Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018 makes clear that it is inappropriate for enterprise agreements to apply to SES or equivalent employees.

Is my agency limited to having only one enterprise agreement?

No. Many agencies choose to negotiate one enterprise agreement that covers all non-SES employees. However, some agencies may benefit from having different enterprise agreements covering distinct sections of their workforces. The approach taken will come down to what works for an agency in practice and what the agency’s management and employees are comfortable with.

For example, if an agency has a division that has a significantly different focus to the rest of the agency, it may be appropriate to negotiate an enterprise agreement for that distinct division. This approach has been used in the past by agencies like the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and the CSIRO.

In other circumstances, some agencies may decide to negotiate a separate enterprise agreement for Executive Level employees in recognition of their middle-management responsibilities. The Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Federal Police are examples of organisations that have taken this approach.

Smaller agencies with specialist workforces may decide to negotiate an enterprise agreement with the employees that are performing administrative roles, and individual contracts with other non-SES employees performing highly specialised jobs. This approach improves agency flexibility and enables specialist employees to negotiate arrangements that are more tailored to their individual roles.

Is my agency required to negotiate a new enterprise agreement?

No. The policy does not oblige an agency to negotiate a new enterprise agreement if an agreement was made under the 2014 or 2015 policy. Agencies and their employees can choose workplace arrangements that suit them. Alternatives may include employment determinations made by agency heads, or common law contracts.

If an agency and its employees choose to negotiate a new enterprise agreement, or a majority support determination is sought under the Fair Work Act 2009, then a new enterprise agreement will be negotiated.