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How does the Fair Work Commission approve an enterprise agreement?

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If you are an employer who has decided to use an enterprise agreement to cover your employees, then it will need to be approved by the Fair Work Commission before it is registered and you and your employees can begin work.

Step 1: Bargaining representative

As an employer, you are automatically designated as the bargaining representative for your interests, however, you can also appoint someone else in writing if you would prefer. Your employees can appoint a bargaining representative in writing which can be themselves or an employee organisation to which they belong, like their union. Once you and your employees have agreed to the terms of the agreement, one of the bargaining representatives must apply to the Fair Work Commission for approval within 14 days after the agreement is made.

Step 2: What to include in the application

If you are the bargaining representative and have chosen to lodge the agreement, you need to complete a declaration and have the employee’s bargaining representative complete one too. You then need an original copy of the written agreement to be signed by both parties. You’ll need three copies of the agreement, and any additional copies that the Fair Work Commission may wish to give to the bargaining representatives if approved. These documents can be sent by email, lodged online, fax or post. The forms you will need can be found here, along with more information on how to complete them.

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Step 3: Approving the agreement

The Fair Work Commission will then assess your agreement and make sure it covers the following requirements:

  • The agreement was genuinely agreed to by the employees;
  • It does not contravene the National Employment Standards;
  • It passes the ‘better off overall’ test;
  • The scope of the employees covered by the agreement is fair;
  • There is an expiry date of no more than four years from the date of approval;
  • No unlawful terms included;
  • There is a term about settling disputes;
  • Approving the agreement would not undermine good faith bargaining;
  • In the case of a multi-enterprise agreement, all of the employers haven’t been coerced or threatened into making the agreement, and it will only cover the employees who approved the agreement and not include the ones who didn’t; and
  • It meets the requirements when dealing with shift workers, outworkers, etc.

If the Fair Work Commission has any questions about your agreement, it might ask you and your employees to attend a hearing, however, they can approve agreements without having one. It can take around 50 days for your agreement to be approved, however, you can check on the progress of your agreement by calling 1300 799 675.


Lodging your employment agreement should be a straightforward process, however if you are unsure about whether the content of your agreement is sufficient to obtain approval, then you might want to consider seeking legal advice. LegalVision can advise you as to whether your agreement meets the legal requirements of the Fair Work Commission. Feel free to give us a call on 1300 544 755.

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