The state of enterprise bargaining in Australia

19 February 2021

Enterprise agreements enable business and workers to share success.

They remain the best way to keep people in work and to enable businesses to grow and succeed so they can pay higher wages and employ additional workers

But the latest data shows the system is not working:

  • Non-managerial employees on EBAs get paid more (earning an average of $42 per hour compared to just $29.40 per hour for those on awards.).
  • On average, a worker on an EBA is $100 better off at the end of a full work day.
  • Over 50 per cent of full-time non-managerial workers on EBAs earn over $1,600 a week compared to around 20 per cent on awards.
  • Wage growth for workers on active federally registered EBAs (with quantifiable wage increases) is higher than the economy-wide average – with growth of 2.6 per cent, compared to 1.4 per cent.
  • Almost 40 per cent or 4 million workers are on EBAs. Just over 20 per cent or 2.2 million workers were on an award. 
  • But the number of active enterprise agreements has fallen to the lowest level in more than 22 years.
  • The system is now so hamstrung by technicalities and complexities that it is in danger of collapse.
  • In part, due to the complexity and uncertainty around the BOOT, employers and employees are choosing not to renegotiate agreements, its taking longer to renegotiate EBAs, or employers are not using them at all.
  • The proportion of people working under a federally registered EBA that has lapsed - but is still operational - has climbed over the past four years to almost 40 per cent of federally registered EBAs.
  • Workers on an agreement that is not or has not been able to be renegotiated (after the nominal expiry date) could remain on the same pay rate.

Read the full report here.


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