FWA reminds employers to ensure they adopt good processes in rolling out proposed agreements
In this case the employer, in rolling out the proposed agreement to employees, used a letter to explain the terms of the agreement (section 180(5)). This letter was found to be deficient in that it did not explain some award conditions employees would be forgoing. The Deputy President stated that, in her view, access to information foregone is fundamental to an informed consideration of an agreement. Deputy President Bartel did not rule out an employer explaining the terms of an agreement solely by use of a letter but commented “whether information is explained in writing, at a meeting or by provision of the award is a matter to be decided having regard to the circumstances”. The Deputy President saw as significant that none of these steps had been taken in a situation where no bargaining representative had been appointed. The Deputy President emphasised that employers need to be proactive in providing explanations and information to employees during the rollout process. An invitation for employees to contact the employer for more information was not viewed as taking “all reasonable steps” to “ensure” the agreement and its operation were explained. The agreement was not approved on the basis employees had not genuinely agreed to it as the effects of the agreement had not been properly explained to them.