Individual Workplace Agreement: What You Need to Know
In many companies, employees are covered by collective agreements negotiated by labor unions and management. However, some employers offer individual workplace agreements (IWAs) as an alternative to collective bargaining. An IWA is a contract between an employer and an individual employee that sets out the terms and conditions of employment.
IWAs are not common in all industries or regions, and are typically offered by larger companies. Employers that offer IWAs may do so for a variety of reasons: to attract and retain high-performing employees, to create a more flexible workforce, or to avoid collective bargaining.
However, IWAs have been a topic of controversy in some countries, including Australia, where the government has attempted to promote their use as a way to increase workplace flexibility and productivity. Critics argue that IWAs can lead to lower wages and working conditions, and decrease the bargaining power of workers.
So, what should you know about IWAs if they are offered to you by your employer?
1. They are voluntary
Employees cannot be forced or coerced into signing an IWA. It is up to the individual employee to decide whether an IWA is in their best interests. Employers must provide employees with a copy of the proposed IWA and a reasonable amount of time to consider it.
2. They are tailored to the individual
Unlike collective agreements, IWAs are negotiated between the employer and the individual employee. This means that the terms and conditions of employment can be customized to suit the needs and preferences of the individual employee. However, this also means that employees may not have the same protections and benefits as they would under a collective agreement.
3. They can be terminated
Both the employer and the employee can terminate an IWA at any time, as long as they provide notice or follow the termination provisions outlined in the agreement. However, termination of an IWA can have serious implications for the employee, particularly if there are no other protections in place.
4. They can affect collective bargaining
If too many employees opt for IWAs instead of collective agreements, this can weaken the bargaining power of workers as a whole. This can have significant consequences for working conditions, wages, and benefits across the industry.
5. They require careful consideration
If offered an IWA, employees should carefully consider the terms and conditions of the agreement, including pay, hours of work, leave entitlements, and termination provisions. It is important to seek advice from a union or legal representative before signing an IWA.
In summary, IWAs can offer some benefits to individual employees, but they also pose risks and challenges for workers more broadly. Employees should approach IWAs with caution, and carefully consider the potential implications before signing on the dotted line.