Workplace relations agreements transition

The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relation, has set out more details of the transition of old workplace relations agreements and the introduction of the Fair Work Bill in this speech:

Before I conclude, there is one further announcement I would like to make today concerning the transition of old workplace relations agreements into the new system.

I asked my Department to seek the views of the Committee on Industrial Legislation on this issue for the purpose of developing the Transitional and Consequential Amendments Bill, to be presented to Parliament early next year.

A proposal flagged to the COIL was that all such agreements would sun-set after five years, with the aim of tidying up the system and encouraging parties to make a new agreement. This was repeated in the media as a so-called “drop-dead date”.

The feedback I received from the COIL and particularly from Australian Mines and Metals Association, that this proposal would disturb long-standing and satisfactory arrangements and create an unnecessary requirement to alter those arrangements.

After considering that feedback, I have decided that old Act agreements, such as old 1993 IR Act agreements, AWAs, ITEAs, s170LK and LJ agreements, will continue to apply until such time as a new agreement is made. Of course after the nominal expiry date of such agreements, parties can bargain in the new system.

To balance this, I confirm that the National Employment Standards will come into effect on 1 January 2010 for all employees and will override any inferior conditions. This will ensure that employees on sub-standard AWAs made under Work Choices will receive the full benefit of the NES.

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