FWC issues guide on sunsetting 'zombie agreements'

Deadline fast approaching for employers to notify affected employees

FWC issues guide on sunsetting 'zombie agreements'

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has rolled out new resources to help employers meet their obligations on "zombie agreements" before they expire in December.

These agreements are registered and operational contracts between employers and employees that were made before the Fair Work Act 2009 took effect in January 2010. They are set to expire on December 7, 2023.

"We have developed resources to help employers meet their obligations to notify their employees about the sunsetting of their pre-2010 agreements," the FWC announced on Friday.

The resources include a PDF guide for employers, which has a checklist for businesses to determine if they are covered by a zombie agreement and what can be done about them.

The other document is a template of a written notice that employers can use in notifying their employees that they are covered by a pre-2010 agreement.

Employers have before June 7 to notify their affected employees in writing about the sunsetting of pre-2010 agreements.

"Failing to give the required written notice to employees is a breach of a civil penalty provision," the FWC said in its announcement.

Pre-2010 agreements

Many of the pre-2010 agreements no longer cover anyone and have ceased to operate, according to the FWC.

"However, some employers and their employees are still covered by pre-2010 agreements and these agreements continue to operate today," the commission said in one of its resources. "These are also known as 'zombie agreements.'"

A document released by the FWC in February revealed that there are still over a hundred thousand of possible zombie agreements registered under the commission.

The government's passing of industrial relations reforms in late 2022 pushed for the sunsetting of these zombie agreements in December 2023, unless an application is made to the commission to extend the default period of the agreement.

"If the employees who were covered by the pre-2010 agreement are not covered by an enterprise agreement, a modern award may then apply to the employees," the FWC said in another guide.

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