Dealing with unions/officials – Fair Work amendment

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Dealing with unions/officials – Fair Work amendment

The Fair Work Act 2009 has been amended to create criminal offences for seeking to influence unions or union representatives by offering payments or non-cash benefits.

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The Fair Work Act 2009 has been amended to create a number of criminal offences for seeking to influence unions or union representatives by offering payments or non-cash benefits.

The Fair Work Amendment (Corrupting Benefits) Act 2017 also applies where unions, or their officials, ask for a benefit or receive one.

The changes apply from 11 September 2017 and:
  • affect how employers should relate to union officials when dealing with them
  • create new disclosure obligations when employees are considering an enterprise agreement.

 Payments to unions and union officials


The new legislation affects a number of common practices in workplaces where there is an established union presence.

Union dues

Deducting an employee’s union dues from his/her pay and paying it to the union is allowed provided:
 
  • the employee has agreed in writing to become a union member
  • the money is paid for his or her membership, and
  • the employee has authorised the deduction in writing.
Hospitality

Providing travel or hospitality during consultation, negotiation or bargaining, or a token gift or invitation to an event is allowed, provided its value does not exceed $420.

Buying union services

Buying goods or services from a union which are an ordinary part of the union’s business is allowed provided the goods or service:
  • cost no more than market value
  • relates to the employer’s business.

Bargaining disclosures


Before employees vote on a proposed enterprise agreement they must be given a copy (with other required information) at least seven days before voting is to start.

The new disclosure requirement applies when there is a direct or indirect financial benefit to a bargaining union, its representatives or to the employer which arises from the operation of any of the terms in the agreement.

Where there is such a benefit: 
  • to the union or representative: the union must give the employer a document identifying the beneficial terms, the amount of benefit(s) and who receives the benefit(s) no more than four days after the agreement has been circulated to employees, and the employer give or give access to, the document to the employees as soon as practicable after (and before the voting starts)
  • to the employer or an associated entity: the employer must give the employer a document identifying the beneficial terms, the amount of benefit(s) and who receives the benefit(s) no more than four days after the agreement has been circulated to employees.
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