EBA stands for enterprise bargaining agreement. It is one of the most important documents of your working life, so it pays to understand it. You can find your EBA in the member portal, under ‘My Membership’.
Also called an enterprise agreement, an EBA is a legally enforceable agreement – between your employer and the ANMF – outlining your wages, working conditions, allowances and entitlements.
Legally enforceable means that the entitlements contained in EBAs are backed by the full force of the law, and employers may be subject to significant financial penalties if they don’t comply with agreements. ANMF is here to help you if you believe your employer is not complying with your EBA.
Why do EBAs exist?
EBAs were introduced by the federal government in the early 1990s, with the aim of providing higher wages and better conditions to workers, but it has been an imperfect system that has not equally benefited nurses, midwives and personal care workers.
Part of the reason for this is that until recently, the legal rules only allowed an EBA to cover one employer (with a few exceptions). This restriction has meant that workplaces with a greater density of ANMF members have often achieved higher wages and better conditions than workplaces with a lower density of ANMF members – primarily because the more ANMF members a workplace has, the more power those members have to achieve positive change.
A good example of this is the public sector, which until recently was one of the few exceptions to the ‘one EBA for one employer’ rule.
There are tens of thousands of members working in the public sector. When all those members work together, they can achieve great things – for instance, ratios were only achieved because public sector members fought hard for them, over many years; and then fought again and again to save them.
What changed recently?
The Albanese government passed new workplaces laws in June 2023.
The new laws theoretically mean that more workers employed by different employers in the same industry – private aged care, for instance – can negotiate together for a single EBA that coves multiple workplaces (in the event certain conditions are met), thus increasing their bargaining power through strength in numbers.
These new rules are complex, however, and the real impact of the changes will only be known in the fullness of time.
Know your EBA
‘Everybody was shocked because they’d worked there for years and had never claimed a cent. But here was somebody freshly arrived from England coming and claiming $320.63.’
Clinical nurse specialist Allington Gono read his EBA ‘inside out’ before he started working in Victoria, and used it to claim extra money. Read more