Key features of the WA industrial relations system

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There are two separate industrial relations systems operating in the state of Western Australia, each with different employment laws, awards and minimum conditions. 

All employers and employees in Western Australia are covered by either the Western Australian state system or the national system. Detail on who is in which system is provided on the Guide to who is in the WA state system page.

The state laws on employment of children, and (in most cases) long service leave apply to employers and employees in the both state or national industrial relations systems. This website provides information on these topics for all employers and employees in Western Australia.

Some provisions of the national system, particularly the entitlements to parental leave and some of the requirements relating to termination of employees apply to state system employers and employees.

Key features of the state system

About the WA industrial relations system

All workplaces in the state system are covered by one of the following employment arrangements:

  • WA awards applying to certain industries and occupations OR
  • registered industrial agreements (enterprise agreements)  applying to specific businesses OR
  • registered employer - employee agreements applying to individual employees OR
  • ‘common-law’ contracts of employment where the employee is award free. 

The Minimum Conditions of Employment Act provides a minimum standard of pay and conditions that underpins all of these employment arrangements.

Industrial agreements

Industrial agreements (often referred to as enterprise agreements or enterprise bargaining agreements) are collective arrangements establishing conditions of employment for specific businesses.

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

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 the relevant WA award.

These agreements:

  • 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 Guide to Employer Employee Agreements publication outlines the requirements for offering and registering an EEA.

State minimum wage

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.

For more information please contact Wageline.

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