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Supporting Guidance: Part 8 - Approval Requirements for Enterprise Agreements and Other Collective Arrangements

8 Approval Requirements for Enterprise Agreements and Other Collective Arrangements

8.1 Agencies are expected to comply with any instructions issued by the APSC in relation to this policy.

  1. Agencies must not offer a proposed remuneration increase until the Australian Public Service Commissioner is satisfied that proposed remuneration increases are affordable and offset by genuine productivity gains, in consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Finance.
  2. Before making any wages offer, an Agency Head must be satisfied that the proposed remuneration increases, and any other enhancements to terms and conditions which have a fiscal impact, are affordable from within existing and known future budget allocations and would not require the diversion of programme funds or additional supplementation.

    All agreements proposing remuneration increases need to be supported by the agency's Minister. Where the Department of Finance and/or the APSC indicates that it considers an agency's proposed workplace arrangement is not affordable or not supported by appropriate productivity gains, the agency must revise the proposal to ensure it is affordable.
  3. Agencies are not permitted to reach agreement, including ‘in-principle agreement’, with bargaining representatives on any matters that are inconsistent with Government policy unless the Ministers have approved exemptions in relation to those matters.

At the conclusion of bargaining

  1. A draft enterprise agreement, or other collective arrangement, must be provided to the APSC for assessment against Government policy prior to an agency seeking the Ministers' approval of the agreement. Such drafts are to be accompanied by a Remuneration, Funding and Productivity Declaration signed by the Agency Head.
  2. Agencies will be required to provide the APSC with evidence that the proposed agreement has met the Government's policy objectives, including:
    1. the total cost of the proposed agreement;
    2. productivity initiatives arising from the agreement; and
    3. the extent to which objectives relating to the removal of restrictive work practices and the maintenance of the core APS terms and conditions of employment have been met.

8.2 The Ministers' approval of the agreement must be received before the agreement is put to a vote of employees.

8.1 APSC assessment of enterprise agreements and other collective arrangements

8.1.1 Agencies are expected to comply with any instructions issued by the APSC in relation to this policy.

8.1.2 The APSC will work with agencies to develop proposed bargaining positions that comply with Government policy.

8.1.3 Agencies should seek their Minister's agreement to their proposed bargaining position. A bargaining position that is inconsistent with Government policy must not be approved by the agency Minister.

8.1.4 Before an agency seeks the approval of the Ministers for exemptions from Government policy for a proposed enterprise agreement or workplace arrangement, they must make a submission to the APSC for assessment against Government policy. The APSC will provide separate guidance to Commonwealth employers that details this assessment process.

8.1.5 Parts 2 and 3 outline the approval process for any proposed remuneration increase. Agencies must not offer any proposed remuneration increases until the Australian Public Service Commissioner is satisfied that proposed remuneration increases are affordable within an agency's existing budget and offset by genuine productivity gains, based on the evidence requirements outlined in paragraph 3.1.5. This paragraph does not prevent agencies from bargaining in relation to other matters whilst approvals in relation to the agency's remuneration offer are sought.

8.1.6 Where the APSC and/or the Department of Finance is of the opinion that:

  • an agency's proposed remuneration arrangement is not affordable within the agency's existing budget;
  • there are insufficient productivity initiatives to support the proposed remuneration improvements; or
  • the proposed remuneration offer is otherwise not prudent or appropriate,

and the agency wishes to propose an alternative remuneration increase, the agency must resubmit a revised remuneration offer for approval.

8.1.7 A draft enterprise agreement, or other collective workplace arrangement, must be provided to the APSC for assessment against Government policy before the agency seeks Ministerial approval of the agreement. Such drafts must be accompanied by a Remuneration, Funding and Productivity Declaration as per the template at Attachment A, signed by the Agency Head who will be accountable for ensuring the proposed workplace arrangement delivers on the matters certified in this declaration. Agencies should provide the APSC with evidence that supports their Agency Head's declaration including:

  • the total cost of the proposed agreement and demonstration that programme funding has not been diverted to fund remuneration increases;
  • any related certifications received from the Department of Finance;
  • an outline of the productivity initiatives that will be pursued over the life of the workplace arrangement (initiatives that are initiated by the agency and are not APS-wide initiatives);
  • an outline of how the agency has removed restrictive work practices (through the proposed workplace arrangement and any associated revision of policies); and
  • in relation to APS agencies, an outline of how the maintenance of core APS-terms and conditions of employment have been met.

8.2 Ministerial approval before vote

8.2.1 An agency must not put a proposed agreement or other collective workplace arrangement to a vote of employees unless the agency has obtained the Ministers' approval.

8.2.2 A proposed enterprise agreement will only be approved by the Ministers where the Commissioner is satisfied that proposed remuneration increases are affordable within an agency's existing budget and offset by genuine productivity gains.