Three certified agreements case

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The three certified agreements case
Australian Coat of Arms.png
Court Australian Industrial Relations Commission
Full case name Re: Rural City of Murray Bridge Nursing Employees, ANF (Aged Care) – Enterprise Agreement 2004 (18 March 2005 PR956575).
Decided 21 March 2005
Citation(s) PR956575
Case history
Prior action(s) '
Subsequent action(s) none
Case opinions

The case determined what did and did not pertain. It concluded:

  • Trade union right of entry "pertains to the relationship between employer and employee".
  • Salary sacrifice "pertains to the relationship between employer and employee".
  • Setting conditions for employees of labour hire "pertains to the relationship between employer and employee".
  • Recognition of delegates "pertains to the relationship between employer and employee".
  • Payroll deductions for union dues "do not pertain to the relationship between employer and employee".
  • Trade union training leave "pertains to the relationship between employer and employee".
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Guidice, Lawler, Ross

The "three certified agreements case" was a decision of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The case resolved the confusion created by the High Court's decision of Electrolux v AWU.

Name of the case[edit]

The "three certified agreements case" (A.K.A.: "In Re Schefenacker" / "The Australian Nursing Federation and the Rural City of Murray Bridge") was a case which combined appeals from single Commissioners decisions not to certify enterprise agreements as they believed that the agreements contained clauses that did not pertain to the relationship between employer and employee. The three agreements were:

  • The Murray Bridge Enterprise Bargaining Agreement
  • The Schefenacker Vision Systems Enterprise Bargaining Agreement
  • The La Trobe University Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.

(There has been confusion about how to name the case as it was a combined appeal which is uncommon. It has often been named "The Australian Nursing Federation and the City of Murray Bridge" it has also often been named "Schefenacker" or "in re Schefenacker" to this date no name appears to have been universally adopted.)

Background to the case[edit]

The decision was necessary to clarify the High Court's decision of Electrolux. The aftermath of the Electrolux decision was that a huge degree of uncertainty existed around what could be placed into enterprise bargaining agreements.

Significance of the case[edit]

The decision was handed down on the 21 March 2005.The case got major attention around Australia at the time. It was one of the longest awaited decisions in industrial relations law as industrial relations professionals had awaited clarification of the Electrolux decision of the High Court of Australia for over five months. [1] It is commonly regarded as the final landmark decision of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. (That is before its wage setting, award formation and agreement certification powers were removed from it by the WorkChoices reform in 2006.)

Decision in the case[edit]

The case dealt with whether a large number of union friendly provisions, including:

  • union training leave
  • the recognition of delegates
  • right of entry
  • salary sacrifice
  • use of labour hire (and setting or terms of conditions for labor hire).

The case decided that these matters (in certain forms) could be included into enterprise agreements (and it would have followed awards). It was generally accepted as a major union victory. [2]