Termination of ‘zombie agreements’ – what you need to know

Banner illustration with text reading, 'Secure Jobs, Better Pay'Published 6 December 2023

Most remaining agreements made before 2010 (zombie agreements) automatically terminate on 7 December 2023.

Learn what applies if your agreement terminates and where to get help.

Automatic termination of zombie agreements

All remaining zombie agreements that are still in operation on 6 December 2023 automatically terminate on 7 December 2023 unless:

  • an application was made to the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) to extend the operation of the agreement
  • the Commission:
    • granted an extension, or
    • had not made a decision about the extension application before 7 December.

The Commission is the national workplace relations tribunal.

Zombie agreements are certain kinds of pre-2010 registered agreements, such as:

  • certified agreements
  • collective agreements
  • Australian workplace agreements (AWAs)
  • individual transitional employment agreements (ITEAs)
  • certain collective and individual agreements that were registered under state laws
  • enterprise agreements made by the Commission between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2009.

For more information about the termination of zombie agreements, visit Fair Work Commission – Sunsetting of pre-2010 agreements ('zombie agreements') – changes from 7 December 2023.

If your zombie agreement terminates

If an extension application isn’t made or the Commission refuses to grant an extension, the agreement terminates on 7 December 2023. This means that the minimum pay and conditions for employees covered by that agreement may now be set by:

A new registered agreement needs to be negotiated and approved by the Commission to take effect.

Reminder for employers

Employers won't be given a formal notification of their zombie agreement terminating. For example, from us (the Fair Work Ombudsman).

It's the responsibility of the employer to know if their agreement terminates on 7 December 2023 and what to do next. Employers were previously required to give affected employees notice in writing before 7 June 2023 about the zombie agreement ending.

If you move to an award, we encourage you to use our free resources available under Moving to an award.

Find an award

Awards are legal documents that outline the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. There are over 100 industry awards and occupational awards that cover most people who work in Australia.

To find out which award covers you or your business, use our 3-step Find my award tool. Key in a job role and industry to see which award has coverage.

A list of all awards can also be found at our List of awards page. Read the coverage section of the award, as well as the classification descriptions, to see if it might cover your workplace. You can also find information about how to understand awards and classifications at Award classifications.

Employers should also know that employees may be covered by different awards, depending on the duties performed by each employee.

Guide: I'm not sure which award covers my business

Use our free step-by-step guide to help work out which award covers your business: I'm not sure which award covers my business.

It gives practical advice and tips on how to work out award coverage and an example to help understand the process.

Find a registered agreement

A registered agreement is a document between an employer and their employees covering employment conditions. It’s registered and approved by the Commission.

Awards don’t apply when an employer has a registered agreement in place.

The Commission has a database of registered agreements. Go to Find an agreement to search for one now.

Moving to an award

If you or your employees are now under an award, it’s important that you understand the rules and responsibilities that apply under it.

Non-compliance with award obligations breaches the Fair Work Act and can lead to serious penalties.

There are likely differences between the entitlements under your old zombie agreement and the award that now applies. Some of these may be very significant. This can include differences in:

  • minimum pay rates and classifications
  • penalty rates and allowances
  • hours of work and overtime.

The rules in the award will apply instead of the previous requirements that applied under your zombie agreement. To ensure you’re compliant with the award, you should review your current:

  • workplace policies, procedures and practices
  • employment contracts (for example, in relation to payroll and rostering).

Award tools and resources

We encourage you to use our other free tools and resources to help:

Find my award

Use our free 3-step Find my award tool to help work out which award might cover you now. Simply key in a job role and industry to find your award.

List of awards

Think you already know your award? Access a copy from our List of awards page. It's worth checking the coverage terms in the award to see what industries and jobs it covers.

Award classifications

Find out how to read and apply classification descriptions in awards from our Award classifications page. Employers can use this information to help them classify their employees correctly.

Pay and Conditions Tool

Calculate minimum pay rates (including penalty rates and allowances) under your award using our Pay and Conditions Tool. The tool can also help you work out which award might apply if you're unsure.

Industry filters

Our website covers the rules and entitlements under many popular awards. This includes for things like breaks, hours of work and rosters. Look out for the drop-down option and select your industry. For example, 'hospitality'.

Moving to an agreement

After a zombie agreement terminates, employers, representatives or employees may want to bargain for a new registered or enterprise agreement.

The Commission has detailed information and advice on making a new agreement. Go to Make an enterprise agreement.

Award and agreement free employees

In some cases, there may be no award or agreement that applies to an employee.

For more information about what applies to these employees, visit Award and agreement free wages and conditions.

If you have more questions

What we can help with

We (the Fair Work Ombudsman) can give you information and advice on minimum workplace rights and responsibilities. This includes under awards.

If your zombie agreement has terminated, we can explain what the entitlements and rights are under an award if one now applies instead.

Please note that we can only give you general advice. We can’t make a decision about which award or agreement covers your business.

Find out how you can Contact us if you need to. Small business employers may be eligible for our free Employer Advisory Service.

Keep up to date

To stay up to date and be notified with updates that are relevant to you, subscribe to email updates. It only takes a few moments to sign up and will help you stay in the loop with changes to workplace laws.

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