There are two separate industrial relations systems operating in Western Australia, each with different employment laws, awards and minimum conditions.
Employers and employees in Western Australia are covered by either the Western Australian state system or the national fair work system. Information on who is in each system is provided on the Which system of employment law applies page.
The state laws on when children can work, and (in many cases) long service leave apply to employers and employees in both the state and national industrial relations systems.
The provisions of the national system, on notice of termination, parental leave and sexual harassment apply to state system employers and employees.
The WA industrial relations system
All employees in the state system will be covered by one or more of the following employment arrangements:
- WA awards applying to certain industries and occupations;
- registered industrial agreements (enterprise agreements) applying to specific organisations;
- registered employer-employee agreements applying to individual employees; and/or
- ‘common-law’ contracts of employment.
The Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 provides a minimum standard of pay and conditions that underpins all of these employment arrangements.
Industrial agreements (often referred to as enterprise agreements or enterprise bargaining agreements) are collective arrangements establishing conditions of employment for specific organisations.
Industrial agreements are negotiated between unions and employers and registered by the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Once registered, the agreement’s provisions apply to all employees in the workplace who perform work covered by the industrial agreement.
Employer-employee agreements (EEAs) are formal registered individual agreements between an employer and an employee that deal with the terms and conditions of employment.
EEAs can override the provisions of a relevant WA award.
- must be registered with the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission;
- must meet a ‘no disadvantage test’ to ensure the employee is not disadvantaged in comparison with a relevant or comparable award;
- cannot be offered as a condition of employment, promotion or transfer; and
- operate for up to three years.
The State minimum wage is set by the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission. Each year an independent review process, the State Wage Case, takes place to set minimum wage rates and also adjust the wage rates set out in awards.
The wage review takes into account factors such as the state of the economy and the labour market, the needs of the low paid and the capacity of employers to pay increased wages. The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission considers submissions by employer organisations, unions and the Western Australian Government.
More information on the State Wage Case is available from the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission website.