If more than two employees in your workplace are covered by a registered union, it is likely your employees will be covered by a collective agreement. A collective agreement is the formal employment agreement ratified and signed after a process of collective bargaining. Collective employment agreements cover similar points to individual agreements, but the terms are agreed between an employer and a union representing the group of employees. The group of employees will have the same agreement, usually with a pay scale for different jobs or different levels within jobs.
A collective agreement must cover at least two employees and is between at least one employer and one registered union. A collective employment agreement can cover permanent, full-time, part-time, fixed-term and casual employees, but it does not necessarily cover all the employees in your workplace.
Often, a collective agreement will have a clause outlining exactly which type of employee and the type of jobs covered. A collective agreement can extend to be joined by extra unions and employers, but only if the agreement stipulates this can happen.
No, while non-union members may bargain as a collective group with an employer, their negotiations cannot end in a ratified collective agreement rather, it is considered as an individual agreement. This is a slightly different agreement that may be subject to different rules. So, while non-union members can negotiate in a group with an employer, because they are not union members, it is not considered a collective agreement
A collective employment agreement must follow some simple guidelines. A collective agreement must:
• be in writing
• be signed by employers and unions that are parties to the collective agreement
• include a coverage clause stating what work is covered by the agreement
• have a plain language explanation of how to resolve potential disputes between employers and employees, including the 90 day period for a personal grievance
• outline how the agreement can be changed, usually done by including a clause
• indicate an expiry date or an event when the agreement will cease
• include a provision compliant with the Holidays Act 2003 requirement for employees to be paid at least time and a half for work on public holidays
• provide an explanation of how employees will be protected if the business is sold, transferred or contracted out
After a collective agreement is finalised it must be provided to employees, and employers must provide new employees a copy if they are covered by the agreement as outlined in the coverage clause.
The involvement of unions, and the strict guidelines can make the process of developing a collective employment agreement difficult to navigate. For advice and support call Employsure on 0800 675 700.