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Enterprise Agreement Common Law

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Enterprise Agreement Common Law

Enterprise Agreement Common Law: Understanding the Basics

An enterprise agreement is a document that sets out the terms and conditions of employment for a particular group of employees in a business or organization. This could include things like pay rates, working hours, leave entitlements, and other employment conditions. In Australia, enterprise agreements are a legal requirement for businesses operating under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Common law, on the other hand, refers to the laws that have developed through judicial decisions over time. These laws are based on precedents and typically reflect the values and principles of society. In the context of employment, common law is often used to determine the rights and obligations of employers and employees.

So, when we talk about enterprise agreement common law, we are essentially referring to the legal principles that apply to enterprise agreements. In this article, we will explore some of the key aspects of enterprise agreement common law and its implications for businesses.

Freedom of Association

One of the fundamental principles of enterprise agreement common law is the right of employees to associate and form unions. This means that employers must respect the rights of their employees to join a union and engage in collective bargaining. Any attempt to interfere with this right could be considered a breach of the enterprise agreement and could result in legal action.

Good Faith Bargaining

Another important aspect of enterprise agreement common law is the requirement for good faith bargaining. This means that both employers and employees must negotiate in good faith and with a genuine intention to reach an agreement. Any attempt to undermine or sabotage negotiations could be considered a breach of the enterprise agreement and could result in legal action.

Unlawful Terms

Under enterprise agreement common law, any terms in an agreement that are unlawful or contrary to public policy will be invalid. This includes terms that discriminate against certain groups of employees or violate minimum standards of employment set out in the Fair Work Act.

Dispute Resolution

Finally, enterprise agreement common law requires employers and employees to have a process for resolving disputes. This might involve mediation, conciliation, or arbitration. The aim of dispute resolution is to find a mutually acceptable solution that satisfies the needs of both parties and maintains a positive workplace environment.


Enterprise agreement common law is an essential part of the employment relationship in Australia. It provides a framework for negotiating fair and equitable employment conditions that respect the rights of both employers and employees. While it can be challenging to navigate, understanding the key principles of enterprise agreement common law is essential for anyone involved in human resources management or industrial relations.