• House of Representatives Passes Amendments to the Greenfields Agreement Provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • December 7, 2015 | Author: Adam Salter
  • Law Firm: Jones Day - Sydney, New South Wales Office
  • On 11 November 2015, the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014 ("Bill") passed its final hurdle as the House of Representatives approved the Senate's amendments to the greenfields provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). The Bill is intended to ensure that enterprise agreements are negotiated efficiently. The amendments give employers greater power to resolve deadlocks and make unilateral deals.

    Greenfields agreements, which are often difficult to negotiate, are enterprise agreements made between an employer and one or more unions, in circumstances where the employer is establishing a new enterprise. The amendments allow employers to submit their proposed greenfields agreements to the FWC for approval if a deal has not been reached with the union or unions after a six-month "negotiating period". This is intended to provide employers with a mechanism though which to resolve deadlocks and avoid unnecessary delays to project start dates. The FWC's approval nonetheless remains subject to a number of restrictions, including the "better off overall test" and good faith bargaining requirements.

    The original Bill allowed employers to seek approval of their proposed greenfields agreements after a three-month negotiating period. However, following opposition from crossbenchers, the amendments agreed in the Senate extended the period to six months. The new greenfields provisions are subject to a two-year review period.