An Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) is a legal agreement between an employer and employee in Australia that outlines the terms and conditions of employment. It is a form of individual contract and can be used to set the employee`s pay, hours of work, leave entitlements, and other working conditions. The AWA system was abolished in 2009, but some existing agreements were allowed to continue until they expire or get replaced by other arrangements.
AWAs, also known as individual contracts, were introduced in 1996 under the Howard government`s industrial relations reforms. They were designed to provide greater flexibility for employers and employees to negotiate their employment arrangements. However, many critics argued that AWAs disadvantaged employees by giving them fewer legal protections and minimum standards than collective agreements or awards. Some employers used AWAs to slash penalty rates, reduce leave provisions, and undermine workers` rights.
Under an AWA, the terms and conditions of the employment contract are agreed upon between the employer and the employee. The employee waives their rights to award conditions, minimum wages, and other employment entitlements, and instead, negotiates their own terms. The AWA must provide employees with a higher overall level of pay and entitlements than the award minimums.
The AWA system was repealed in 2009 under the Rudd government`s Fair Work Act. The government argued that AWAs were unfair and unbalanced, and favored the employer over the employee. The Fair Work Act replaced the AWA system with the current collective bargaining regime, where employees are able to negotiate their employment terms and conditions collectively with their employer.
Despite the abolition of the AWA system, some existing agreements still remain in place until they expire or get replaced by other arrangements. The Fair Work Commission can also approve individual flexible work arrangements under the Fair Work Act, but these cannot undercut the minimum conditions set out in awards or enterprise agreements.
In conclusion, the Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) was a former individual contract system that allowed employers and employees to negotiate their employment arrangements. However, it was abolished in 2009 due to its perceived unfairness and disadvantage to employees. The current system under the Fair Work Act promotes collective bargaining and minimum conditions for employees, ensuring that workers receive fair pay and entitlements.