THE Fair Work Commission has rejected a draft enterprise agreement after a signatory failed to include an explanation of their authority to sign on behalf of employees, forcing the parties back to the bargaining table.

Brought before the Commission in April 2013 by Sky Channel, the Sky Channel Enterprise Agreement was contested by the Community and Public Sector Union and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

The unions challenged terms within the agreement, claiming they failed to meet the National Employment Standards and the Better Off Overall Test, and also argued that the agreement was not genuinely reached with employees.

Commissioner Cambridge, however, identified a contravention of s185 of the Fair Work Act 2009, outlining strict signature requirements including an explanation of the person’s authority to sign the agreement.

Sky Channel sought to have a correction made to the agreement to rectify the exclusion of an authority explanation, but despite acknowledging holding the discretionary power to do so, Cmn Cambridge rejected the opportunity.

“In the particular circumstances of this case, I have decided not to exercise the discretionary power provided by subsection 586 (a) of the Act and therefore the replacement signatory page is not allowed,” Cmn Cambridge said.

“The refusal to correct the signatory page has arisen from the nature and extent of the challenges to the approval of the agreement raised by the CPSU and the MEAA.

“The CPSU and the MEAA have raised significant concerns with aspects of the terms of the Agreement which are asserted to offend both the National Employment Standards and the Better Off Overall Test.

“In addition, challenge has been made to the process which involved the making of the Agreement such that the Agreement was said to have not been genuinely agreed to by the employees as required by s.188 of the Act.”

The Commissioner called on both parties to return to negotiations to establish an agreement of less contentious nature and ‘hopefully capable of timely approval’.

To read the full decision, click here.

AMMA’s workplace relations consultants can provide end-to-end support in enterprise bargaining agreements and negotiations, ensuring strict compliance with standards outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009. If you are seeking advice or information on any employee relations matter, contact your local AMMA office and speak to one of our specialist consultants or employment lawyers.