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Communtity Law Manual | Starting & leaving a job | Starting work and negotiating an agreement

Starting work and negotiating an agreement

Choosing between collective or individual agreements

Choosing between a collective or individual agreement when you start work

Employment Relations Act 2000, ss 56(1), 62–63B

If there’s a collective agreement in your workplace when you start work and you already belong to the relevant union, then you’ll be covered by this agreement automatically.

If you don’t belong to the union, the employer must tell you about the collective agreement. You then have 30 days to decide whether to join the union and come under the collective agreement (and by any extra terms you negotiate as an individual), or whether to negotiate a different individual agreement instead. In the meantime, during the 30 days, you’ll be covered by an individual agreement that includes the same terms as the collective agreement.

If at the end of the 30 days you decide you don’t want to join the union, you and the employer can mutually agree to change the individual agreement that was based on the collective agreement in the workplace.

If there’s no collective agreement, then you’ll be on an individual employment agreement. The terms of your individual agreement will be whatever you negotiate with your employer.

If I’m under a collective agreement, can I still negotiate terms as an individual?

Employment Relations Act 2000, s 61

Yes. You as an individual can negotiate your own additional terms while still being part of the collective agreement, as long as the additional terms aren’t inconsistent with the collective agreement. Not being inconsistent generally means that the additional terms must deal with issues not covered by the collective agreement, or must be better than minimum terms in the collective agreement.

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