Agreement flexibility emerges as wages stagnate

News

Agreement flexibility emerges as wages stagnate

Innovative agreement provisions are emerging in some sectors, while wage increases remain stagnant or include the ‘absorption’ of allowances and penalty provisions, according to the ADAM December 2002 quarterly report on pay and conditions released 31 March, 2003 by the industrial relations research unit at the University of Sydney.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

 

Innovative agreement provisions are emerging in some sectors, while wage increases remain stagnant or include the ‘absorption’ of allowances and penalty provisions, according to the ADAM December 2002 quarterly report on pay and conditions released 31 March, 2003 by the industrial relations research unit at the University of Sydney.
 
Novel ways of managing family responsibilities, absenteeism, skill development, increasing superannuation contributions and warding off redundancy were evident in some agreements, the ACCIRT report said.
 
But as wage increases in agreements, on average, remained stagnant the ‘key’ to high salary increases was the inclusion of penalty rates and allowances in base wages, the report claimed.
 
Family friendly provisions
 
An agreement in the transport sector, according to the report, provided maternity leave paid at 20% of the base income, after accrued leave entitlements had been exhausted.
 
The retail sector included a small number of agreements that provided paid parental leave to employees who were not the primary care giver - the leave could be taken as one-day periods during the first year of the child’s life, the report said.
 
In a different agreement, the report found, parents could claim the costs of dependent care they had incurred while working extra duties at their employer’s request.
 
Absenteeism
 
Although there was a low incidence of incentive schemes aimed at reducing absenteeism, there was evidence to suggest that flexible and forward thinking work and leave conditions as well as productivity and performance arrangements were being introduced into some agreements to address the issue, the report said.
 
Currently, only 4.8% of enterprise agreements included such provisions, the report found.
 
When absenteeism provisions were included, they involved employees converting unused sick leave to annual leave or employers paying out unused sick leave entitlements, monitoring of and counselling for employees with large numbers of absences, unlimited sick leave, purchased leave, family day leave and special leave such as birthday leave, the report said.
 
However, the report indicated, incentive schemes and penalty-based approaches to managing sick leave didn’t address the underlying causes of absenteeism. Flexible work practices that met the needs of employees were the only way to reduce persistent absenteeism, the report concluded.
 
Certified enterprise agreements
 
The report found that for the December 2002 quarter:
  • average annual wage increase for certified agreements had remained unchanged from the previous quarter’s rate of 3.8% per agreement;
  • the gap between union and non-union wage agreements had widened since the previous quarter - union wage increases stood at 4%, while non-union increases were 3.4%; and
  • the public sector showed a 0.7% overall wages growth, while the private sector remained unchanged, since the previous quarter.
Collective agreements
 
Wage increases for collective agreements were down 0.1% from the previous quarter - reducing from 4% down to 3.9%.
 
The construction and metal industries, however, had a wages growth in collective agreements, with a 4.3% wage increase, the report said, while the mining industry for the fourth consecutive quarter delivered the lowest annual wage increase of 3.4%.
 
Full report
 
The full ADAM report can be purchased via the ACIRRT website.
Post details