Under the Fair Work legislation, enterprise awards will automatically terminate on 31 December 2013, unless an application to modernise the enterprise award has been made. Any person covered by an enterprise award can apply to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to have it modernised. This includes employers, employees and unions. During June and July the FWC is writing to all employers and unions covered by enterprise awards to remind them about the termination of enterprise awards, and the enterprise award modernisation process.
The FWC correspondence is a timely reminder that employers with enterprise awards should review them as against the modern awards which would otherwise apply to their business to determine whether they wish to make an application to the FWC to modernise the enterprise award, or whether they should simply allow the enterprise awards to cease to exist. Additionally, employers should be mindful that unions or employees may apply to modernise enterprise awards, particularly where they provide for better terms and conditions than the modern awards that would otherwise apply. Employers should consider whether they will consent to, or actively resist, any such applications.
A table summarising the enterprise award modernisation process can be found here.