TAFE & Adult Provision Time running out on zombie disability agreements

  • By Shane Wright
  • This article was published more than 7 months ago.
  • 19 Sep 2023

Recent changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 mean that many agreements under which disability workers are employed will no longer exist after 6 December 2023. These outdated agreements, known as zombie agreements, were made before the Fair Work Act 2009 was established. Where relevant, your employer should have made you aware that your agreement is set to cease by 6 June this year.

The AEU is concerned that many employers will try to move disability workers onto the award rather than sign up to the sector-wide disability services (NGO) multi-employer agreement (MEA) or negotiate for a new agreement. Moving employees onto the award could make many disability workers worse off, and result in the loss of entitlements like annual leave and personal leave, which will not apply under the award.

Changes to industrial relations laws mean that employees, supported by their union, can petition employers to go onto the industry-wide disability MEA or to negotiate with workers on an individual workplace agreement.

Workers who are employed under a zombie agreement cannot afford to leave the choice in the hands of their employer.

The AEU is contacting all disability providers with staff employed on zombie agreements and asking them to either join in the bargaining for the proposed replacement MEA, or to begin bargaining for an individual workplace agreement. Both options will give disability workers improved employment conditions when compared with the award.

Workers who are employed under a zombie agreement cannot afford to leave the choice in the hands of their employer. Organising to be included in the disability MEA should be your first option.

Start talking to your colleagues about the potential loss of conditions that would occur if your employer shifts staff onto the award and compare this to the improved conditions you will get if your employer joins the disability MEA.

Contact your AEU organiser to find out how they can help petition your employer to join the disability MEA.

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