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REIQ Journal : December January 2009
8 Industry News Obligations for real estate employers By Bruce Siebenhausen, Secretary/Treasurer, Real Estate Employers’ Association (REEA); and Barry Gannon, State Secretary, Property Sales Association of Queensland (PSAQ) Since the Federal WorkChoices legislation took effect in 2006, there has been confusion regarding employers’ workplace relations obligations. With a change of Federal Government, some say WorkChoices is dead – but is it really? The answer is both “yes” and “no”. WorkChoices introduced two separate jurisdictions, which still remain. These are: Non-Corporations (sole traders, partnerships, some trusts), which are covered by State legislation; and Trading Corporations, with workplace relations responsibilities under Federal legislation. Employment agreements Legislation introduced in March 2008 banned new Australian Workplace Agreements, and introduced Individual Transitional Employment Agreements (ITEAs). Employers now have the following agreement-making options: Common-law Employment Agreements (CLAs); Employee Collective Agreements (ECAs); and ITEAs. CLAs and ITEAs offer flexibility with individual employees; ECAs cover an entire workplace, or a distinct operational unit within a workplace. The apparent benefit of an ECA is a longerterm cost saving. However, many real estate employers are now moving away from ECAs due to their restrictive nature, as an entire workforce is “locked in” to the arrangements for five years. For most salespeople and property managers in Queensland, employment agreements are mandatory. By law: All commission-only salespeople must have a written, signed employment agreement. No agreement = not commission only. All non-corporation employers must have employment agreements registered with the Queensland Property Industy Registry (QPIR). All Trading Corporation employers who employed salespeople or property managers prior to 27 March 2006 must also have employment agreements registered with QPIR. All Trading Corporation employers who bought a business from one of the above categories of employers since 27 March 2006 must also have employment agreements registered with QPIR. REEA and the PSAQ continue to seek robust legal advice on agreementmaking. Trading Corporations can now achieve agreement-making compliance via a new internet-based service, www.repsa. com.au, which provides: Agreements for all employment categories – administration, clerical, office and property management, salespeople (including leasing) and trainees; and Common-law employment agreements, employee collective agreements and individual transitional employment agreements. Subscribe, work through an online questionnaire, and the REPSA system will build the right agreements for you. REIQ Journal December 2008/January 2009 Sub-contracting There is a push in some industry sectors towards engaging staff as “contractors”. We believe that at least three Government agencies are currently investigating such activity. Workplace relations audit With an industry-wide workplace relations audit by the Workplace Ombudsman likely in 2009, employers are reminded to keep accurate time and wages records. For the purposes of the audit, it has recently been agreed that QPIR will supply details of each office’s registered agreement status to the Workplace Ombudsman. If there is a legitimate reason for your office not having registered agreements, we invite you to inform QPIR administration, so that this can be noted in any report. Looking forward REEA and the PSAQ are involved in the development of a Federal Real Estate Industry Award, which should come into effect by late 2009 or early 2010. The new award will provide clarity on many workplace relations issues. For futher information: PSAQ: Barry Gannon, ph (07) 3841 6977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org REEA: Bruce Siebenhausen, ph 0411 208 794 or email BSiebenhausen@reea.org.au QPIR: ph (07) 3219 7622 or email email@example.com REPS Australia: ph (07) 3219 7099 or email firstname.lastname@example.org