Introduction

Under new legislation which took effect in January 2018, bargaining representatives – whether acting for employers, peak bodies or unions – must now disclose any personal financial benefits arising from enterprise agreements before they are voted on.

The purpose of the disclosure documents is to help workers, employers and other stakeholders to track the revenue that an enterprise agreement will generate for unions and any other bargaining representative.

Which benefits should be disclosed?

The benefits which must be disclosed include those which will be received by individuals connected to any bargaining representative, such as:

  • payments to a training funds controlled by a bargaining organisation;
  • commissions earned for employees signing up to insurance schemes;
  • director, management and brokerage fees;
  • dividends; or
  • trust and share distributions.

In terms of disclosing benefits, bargaining representatives must now provide a high level of detail, including:

  • itemising the benefits which will be received;
  • describing the nature and amount of each benefit; and
  • naming the beneficiaries.

Penalties for non-compliance

Employers involved in enterprise agreement negotiations should be aware of the new requirements and ensure that they do not fall afoul of any disclosure obligations. Failure to comply with the new disclosure requirements could lead to penalties of up to $12,600 for individuals or $63,000 for bodies corporate.

However, an enterprise agreement may still be approved even if the disclosure requirements are not strictly adhered to.

What should employers do?

Where an employer is required to disclose any personal financial benefits, it must ensure that all relevant employees have received the document by the end of the fourth day of the access period for the agreement. Employers must give access to or provide a copy of the document (by that time) and ensure continued access to it for the remainder of the access period.

Employers should also ask any other bargaining representatives involved in the negotiation to comply with their obligations and consider drawing any benefits which are disclosed to the attention of their employees for their consideration before voting takes place on any proposed agreement.

For further information on this topic please contact Mark Diserio at Lander & Rogers by telephone (+61 3 9269 9000) or email (mdiserio@landers.com.au). The Lander & Rogers website can be accessed at www.landers.com.au.

This article was first published by the International Law Office, a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. Register for a free subscription.