Payrises – ESTA Grandparented Employee’s

The AEAV met with ESTA last Wednesday to discuss pay increases for grandparented employees.

The 2020 EBA included a new classification structure. Most staff were transitioned to the new classification structure where they were better off as a result of the new structure. Where employees were not transferred to the new structure, they retained their previous payrates – this is known as grandfathering, or grandparenting.

The AEAV and ESTA held differing views on the application of payrises for grandparented employees, the AEAV believed that all grandparented employees should receive wage increases in accordance with the salary increases provided in the agreement. ESTA had believed that grandparented employees would receive their wage as set until the new classification structure provided a greater entitlement. After discussion, ESTA agreed to review the clause and respond.

We received communication from them yesterday as follows –

Further to our meeting, we have considered this issue further and confirm that we agree that ESTA has inadvertently misapplied clause 25.6.1 of the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority Operational Employees Enterprise Agreement 2019 (Operational Agreement).

The interpretation taken by the payroll team in relation to the pay increases from 1 July 2021 is one that is consistent with the ordinary meaning of the term “grandfather”, which refers to the preservation of the benefits of previous arrangements for those who qualify, while phasing in the new policy or program for those who will be affected in the future. Normally the point of such an arrangement in a classification context is to preserve higher legacy rates of pay until employees would receive more under the new classification structure.

ESTA’s view is that the first sentence of clause 25.6.1 is consistent with the normal use of the term “grandfathering” (or in this case, “grandparenting”) as it states that relevant employees will receive the legacy rate “until they would be entitled to a greater amount under this Agreement”. In contrast, the interpretation the unions advocate for essentially means that relevant employees would never receive a greater amount under the Operational Agreement classification structure because the pay increases will keep their “grandparented” rate higher.

After consulting staff involved in bargaining for the Operational Agreement, we understand that clause 25.6.1 was intended to depart from the ordinary meaning of the term and in fact provide that, unless there is change to an employee’s classification which would mean they receive more than their “grandparented” rate (as adjusted each year), the relevant employees stay on their legacy rate of pay and receive 2.5% increases at the same intervals prescribed for the other employees. This appears to have been attempted to be reflected in the wording of the second sentence of clause 25.6.1, although it could have been drafted more clearly.

The payroll team will be working over coming weeks to correct the inadvertent error and we ask for yours and employees’ patience while this occurs. We intend to publish a communication to affected employees as soon as we have determined the exact corrections that are required.

Enterprise Agreements can sometimes be confusing to interpret and it’s fair to say that it’s not the clearest clause given the usual meaning of ‘grandfathering’. We acknowledge ESTA has worked swiftly to correct the error and appreciate the work of Payroll on this also.

It may take a small amount of time for this to be rectified in your pay, however it should be rectified as soon as possible. If you have any questions or queries in relation to this, please contact Sharyne Doensen (Tally Ho), Roger Parker (BalSECC) or get into contact with the AEAV at [email protected].

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