On 13 October 2015, the Senate approved the Fair Work Amendment
Bill 2014 ("Bill") which amends the greenfields agreement
provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
("FWA"). The amendments give employers greater power to
resolve deadlocks when negotiating greenfields agreements.
Greenfields agreements are enterprise agreements which are made
between an employer and one or more unions in circumstances where
the employer is establishing a new enterprise. The negotiation of
greenfields agreements can be difficult.
The Bill is directed toward ensuring that enterprise agreements are
negotiated efficiently. The proposed amendments allow employers to
seek approval of their proposed greenfields agreement if no deal
has been reached with the union or unions after a six-month
"negotiating period". This is designed to give employers
a mechanism to resolve deadlocks to prevent excessive delays in
project start dates. However, the approval is still subject to
restrictions, including the "better off overall test" and
good faith bargaining requirements.
The original proposal allowed employers to seek approval of their
proposed greenfields agreements after a three-month negotiating
period, but the period was extended to six months after opposition
from crossbenchers in the Federal Parliament. The new greenfields
provisions will be the subject of a review after two years, meaning
this area could be the subject of further change in the
Despite the Senate's approval of the Bill, it still needs to be
passed by the House of Representatives before it becomes law. The
Bill also includes other amendments to the FWA, such as changes to
the protected action ballot order requirements and a new obligation
on employers to give employees a reasonable opportunity to discuss
requests to extend parental leave.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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An employee that refused a reasonable offer of settlement was ordered by the FWC to pay his ex-employer's legal costs.
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