By William Ward, Partner
As employers are aware, there have been many changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 in the last year. Furthermore, these various changes take effect from different dates. Some started back in March 2023, some in June 2023 and some on 7 December 2023.
One of the important changes that commences on 7 December 2023 is that any remaining zombie agreements will automatically terminate, and employees covered by the zombie agreements will shift over to being covered by the applicable award.
Zombie agreements are industrial instruments made before 1 January 2010 during what is commonly called the “WorkChoices era” and includes such instruments as:
- Certified agreements
- State enterprise agreements
- Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs); and
- Individual transitional employment agreements
Indeed, quite a significant number of employers are still operating under these zombie agreements. Importantly, these zombie agreements typically have very different arrangements in relation to over-time and penalty rate entitlements to current awards.
This means employers with zombie agreements need to familiarise themselves with the relevant awards that will commence applying to their employees from 7 December 2023 and the newly applicable entitlements its employee should start receiving. Alternatively, employers could decide to create a new enterprise agreement if the newly applicable current award is impracticable for a particular employer’s business.
We are more than willing to assist employers with the transition. Ignoring the termination of zombie agreements could result in significant award back payment claims and fines.
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