EEAs miss the mark

THE WA Industrial Relations Commission registered just three Employee-Employer Agreements in six months, casting doubt over the State Government’s much vaunted answer to the workplace agreements it abolished last year.

Businesses have been able to register the EEAs, the Government’s replacement for the popular workplace agreements, since September 15.

However, while the EEAs have had a low registration rate, there have been about 13,400 applications for Australian Workplace Agreements – the Federal version of workplace agreements – in the past six months.

Office of the Employment Advocate WA regional manager Rod Dewsbury said that the “vast majority” of AWA applications lodged were registered.

He said between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of all AWAs registered in the past six months had come from WA.

“Nationally we’re registering about 8,000 a month,” he said.

Initially WA Business News was told the number of EEAs that had been registered was not for public release.

However, WA Industrial Relations Commission CEO John Spurling said he was aware that only three EEAs had been registered.

It appears most WA businesses that were on workplace agreements are seeking cover-age from the Federal industrial relations system.

However, to enter into an AWA a business must be incorporated – registered as a Pty Ltd company. 

Businesses that are operating through a partnership or sole trader arrangement can find it very costly to restructure their company as an incorporated entity.

Most industrial relations advisers are telling their clients to steer clear of the EEAs because they are too complex to set up.

They are instead advising their clients to go for AWAs or non-union certified agreements under the Federal system.

Jackson McDonald partner Maria Saraceni said she had been advising clients on EEAs but was unaware if any of them had taken the step of trying to register one.

“You’re bound by the award with EEAs,” she said.

Opposition Industrial Relations spokeswoman Cheryl Edwardes said she had been unable to ascertain how many EEAs had been registered despite asking numerous questions in parliament of Consumer and Employment Protection Minister John Kobelke.

“In terms of talking to employers I’m hearing that the majority have either gone to AWAs or back onto the award,” she said.

“I think the establishment of EEAs was a sop to business in the lead up to the elections.

“By making EEAs so difficult to register the Government is forcing businesses back to the award. EEAs were never meant to work.”

Mr Kobelke could not be contacted for comment.

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