In this decision FWA issued its first low paid bargaining authorisation. The authorisation was sought by United Voice (formerly LHMU) covering aged care employees whose work is described in the Aged Care Award 2010. United Voice informed FWA the employers listed in the application are all the residential aged care providers in Australia who are funded by the Australian Government.
In considering the application FWA were mindful the objects of the Fair Work Act “include the encouragement of enterprise bargaining for low-paid employees which improves productivity and service delivery and which also takes account of the needs of individual enterprises” and the underlying legislative policy for a low-paid authorisation is “to assist and encourage low-paid employees … to make an enterprise agreement that meets their needs”.
In making the authorisation FWA determined the application was in the public interest and there is a “very significant proportion” of low paid employees in aged care who “are paid at or around the award rate of pay and who are paid at the lower award classification levels”. FWA were also of the view that these employees “either have not had access to enterprise bargaining or face substantial difficulty in bargaining at the enterprise level and that making an authorisation would assist them to bargain”.
FWA excluded from its authorisation those employers who have agreements in place on the basis these workplaces have had access to collective bargaining. In doing so they indicated there may be cases where employers with agreements may be included in an authorisation.
In concluding their decision FWA indicated those employers who take moves to initiate bargaining at their workplace would be excluded from the final list of employers listed in the low paid authorisation.