Application of State awards for Local Governments that transitioned to the State system on 1 January 2023

Many Local Governments that transitioned to the State industrial relations system are grappling with the application of the State awards to their workforce or with the question of how to apply them in the context of negotiating new industrial agreements.

As a general rule, if your Local Government applied the Local Government Industry Award 2020 (LGIA) and/or had a Federal enterprise agreement at the time of transition on 1 January 2023, you do not need to apply the State Local Government awards at this time.
Local Government Industry Award 2020 industrial agreement
For those Local Governments that applied the Federal LGIA before 1 January 2023, the LGIA transitioned to the State system and became an industrial agreement for each Local Government on 1 January 2023.

The Local Government Industry Award 2020 industrial agreement (LGIA IA):
  • applies in lieu of the State Local Government awards at this time
  • has a nominal expiry date of 31 December 2024
  • will continue to apply past the nominal expiry date (just like an industrial agreement) until it is renegotiated or if a party retires from it
  • can be renegotiated between an employer and a union as it is an industrial agreement
  • can be retired by an employer any time after, or not more than 30 days before, the nominal expiry date of the agreement.
If a Local Government retires from the LGIA pursuant to s.41(7) of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) (IR Act), it is only then that the Local Government would apply the State awards.

State Local Government awards
The Local Government Officers’ (Western Australia) Award 2021 and Municipal Employees (Western Australia) Award 2021 (State Local Government Awards) are the primary Local Government State awards. These awards are common rule awards which means they apply to the Local Government sector.
The State Local Government Awards were old federal awards which have not been updated in 24 years and require significant modernisation.
Due to WALGA’s advocacy with the WA Government a new regulation was made which has the effect of displacing the State awards for a period of time. We provided a SIRT Bulletin - Key Update about this on 21 November 2022. Although the new regulation has been legislated to end on 31 December 2024, its operation will end sooner if a new State instrument is retired or replaced by another industrial agreement.

This is important because as long as a Local Government maintains its new State instrument then it will not have to consider the State awards for the transitional period.
Employee Relations subscribers can consider the differences between the State and Federal award conditions in a series of comparison guides which were developed by WALGA here.

We are hopeful that at the end of an award modernisation process, the State Local Governments Awards will be amended to be clearer and easier to understand and apply. Subscribers are also able to contact the Employee Relations team to discuss how to manage the application of the State Local Governments Awards in the context of their workforce, including where agreements have passed their nominal expiry date or the unions are seeking to bargain for new agreements.

Proposed special public holiday general order
In February we advised the sector of the UnionsWA claim for a special public holiday general order. Information about the proposed scope and application of this general order can be found here and the notice in the WA Industrial Gazette can be viewed here.
This matter will be heard by the Western Australian Commission in Court Session on Tuesday, 9 May 2023 at 10.30am.
Local Governments wishing to make individual submissions to the proposed general order must do so no later than 4:00pm on Tuesday, 2 May 2023. Further information about this process can be found on the WAIRC website here.
The proposed general order will have a limited impact on Local Governments as it is only related to those special public holidays which are rarely declared by the Government, and most, if not all, Local Governments pay penalty rates to employees working on public holidays in any event. WALGA has not received any feedback from the sector to date identifying concerns with the proposed general order. WALGA intends to submit a short submission to this effect on behalf of the sector.
Please contact us to discuss any concerns about the impact of the proposed general order on your workforce.

Managing union right of entry resources

The recorded right of entry webinar which was held on Friday, 17 March 2023 is now available to subscribers here.
The webinar was presented by Rosemary Miller, WALGA and Daniel White, Mills Oakley. It addressed the right of entry provisions in the IR Act, including:
  • The rights of a union to enter a workplace (who and why)
  • How much notice a union has to provide
  • Where the union can go once in your workplace and what they can do
  • Practical strategies to manage union right of entry
  • The importance of employee engagement.
Reminder to review draft response to APPL 3 and 4 of 2023

On 17 March we advised the sector that the ASU has made two applications to amend the State Local Government Awards. This alert can be viewed here. WALGA will be filing the response on 31 March 2023. We wrote to relevant Local Governments about this on  24 March and asked for any feedback. If you have not yet responded please do so by no later than COB Thursday, 30 March 2023.

Local Government award modernisation

The ASU applications to amend the State Local Government Awards have created an opportunity to modernise these awards. If you would like WALGA to represent your interests in this process and have not yet contacted us, please let us know by emailing WALGA Employee Relations.
Please contact us for further information or to receive a recording of the webinar held on 22 March 2023 which explained this process.

If you subscribe to the WALGA Employee Relations service and have any questions about this alert, please email WALGA Employee Relations or call 1300 366 956.