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There’s no need to fear agreements

WORKPLACE agreements are not scary. They are an ideal vehicle for the determination of workplace rights and obligations between an employee and his or her employer.

They provide a flexible and personal approach for an individual employee and his or her employer to negotiate terms and conditions of employment that are suitable to both parties and the nature of the business.

Negotiation of agreements can be either directly between the employer and employee or through respective agents.

When it is finalised, an agreement must be in writing and is then registered with the appropriate authorities.

These agreements are enforceable under mechanisms that already exist in both State and Federal jurisdictions.

Since their introduction in WA in 1993, hundreds of businesses, both large and small, have taken the opportunity to negotiate and enter into agreements with their employees.

Some of the benefits of considering this approach to the regulation of employment conditions are:

• Development of conditions that suit both the employee and employer

• Deletion of restrictive and archaic award practices

• Ability to review the provisions internally

• Formulation of a greater relationship of trust

• Certainty as to conditions that actually apply

• Ownership of the outcome.

There is no limit to what can be considered under a workplace agreement so long as the minimum conditions or the no disadvantage test are not breached.

In all other respects the parties are open to negotiate and agree to any and all conditions they wish to operate within the business.

Popular conditions adopted into Perth businesses to date include:

• Profit sharing and bonus systems

• Flexible working hours such as annualising normal work hours

• Introduction of more relevant and timely training mechanisms

• Access to part-time work and working from home, including balancing work and family commitments

• Banking of overtime hours or time of in lieu of overtime provisions

• Formulation and use of formal career paths

• Use of sick leave for family responsibilities

• Annualisation of salaries and consolidation of allowances

• Salary packaging mechanisms.

It must be remembered in the negotiation process that workplace agreements are voluntary on both sides and no party is allowed to put any pressure or duress on the other party to negotiate or enter into an agreement.

With the benefits that can be achieved, however, most people are keen to look at the possibilities.

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