Employers rushed to lodge almost 40,000 new AWAs immediately before and after Labor’s win in last month’s federal election, new figures released by the Workplace Authority show.
Just over 38,000 new AWAs were lodged in November, almost 10,000 more than in the previous month and the highest monthly number since the Fairness Test came into effect in May.
The Workplace Authority says the surge in the number of AWAs lodged in November “is consistent with the same time last year and is likely to be a reflection of the business cycle”.
The spike in lodgements has also caused the AWA backlog to grow, with just under 150,000 AWAs of the 222,276 agreements lodged since the introduction of the Fairness Test now in the process of or waiting to be processed.
The number of agreements that have failed the Fairness Test also jumped to 6693 in November, a dramatic boost from the 1826 failed agreements recorded in October.
The reported departure of several public servants working for the Workplace Authority last month could mean further delays in the processing of AWAs.
New Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard has said there will continue to be “a very large backlog” of agreements for some time to come.
“Some 60,000 (agreements) have not reached the stage where an employer has been advised that the agreement needs to be changed or that further information is required to be sought,” Gillard says. “Clearing this backlog is inevitably going to take many months.”
And we will soon have much more information about the costs and benefits of AWAs to employers and employees, with Gillard announcing today that she will take steps to publish statistics on AWAs lodged with the Workplace Authority.
The previous government refused to release information on AWAs, despite repeated calls from academics, unions and Labor to do so.
Gillard said she will seek to ensure that “the maximum amount of information gets out into the public domain” subject to maintaining the privacy of employers and employees.