The BCA says “greater clarity” is needed on how good faith bargaining (GFB) should work under the Fair Work Act. A BCA discussion paper – Embedding Workplace Collaboration: Good Faith Bargaining – released on press day suggests “more formal guidance”, perhaps a code of practice, on GFB requirements is required. It says govt has an important role to play, including ensuring “all depts and agencies” respect those requirements when negotiating agreements with staff. Govt needs to provide “advice and encouragement to those who are endeavouring to come to grips” with GFB. The paper says the FW Act is an attempt to learn from past experiences internationally and domestically to provide legislative support for collaborative workplace relations. As such, it is more sophisticated than previous attempts to give legislative effect to the good faith principle in Australia. But legislation can play only a limited role in developing a more collaborative workforce culture. BCA chief exec Kate Lahey said in a statement accompanying the report’s release that the test of new laws would be their contribution to productivity growth as well as to greater fairness. “Fair Work Australia has a vital role in making determinations in GFB disputes that over time will show what is acceptable in the Australian context,” Lahey said. The Fed Govt had a “clear role and investment” in providing guidance to minimise any misunderstanding in how to approach GFB. “Taking a leap of faith in negotiations is not the best way to achieve productivity growth,” she said.
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