FSU analysis of NAB's EA proposal

November 2022 

Why we need to Vote NO to NAB’s Proposal


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It’s converting

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It’s directing us to take more

It’s reducing our

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It’s removing entitlements to our

It’s behind industry best practice on

This page will unpack the offer to date from NAB and examine the precise devil in all of the details so that you are fully armed with all of the information to share with our colleagues.


The Finance Sector Union (FSU) and NAB have been in negotiations since September dealing with the substantive issues faced by colleagues across the Bank and to secure a new agreement for colleagues in Groups 1 to 6. 

Management believes an impasse has been reached at the bargaining table and decided to put their proposals to ballot. Your FSU bargaining team is disappointed by this decision as the offer is sub-standard and more work needs to be done at the bargaining table to achieve an outcome that prioritises our colleagues.  

This comprehensive document has been created to ensure NAB colleagues and FSU members are fully informed of the Enterprise Agreement (EA) proposal being put forward by Management and to assist you in having conversations with your colleagues.  

Management’s proposal will go to ballot in the third week of November and due to its consequences, as outlined below, we are recommending that all colleagues Vote No to stop it from taking effect.  

The next steps following a successful No Vote – including bringing NAB back to the bargaining table – and how we achieve improvements, are outlined towards the end of this document.   



Enterprise bargaining has coincided with a cost-of-living crisis that has laid bare the problems with NAB’s pay model and the enduring consequences of cost cutting, restructuring and Senior Executives discounting the concerns of NAB colleagues. 

Annual inflation is at its highest point in thirty years at 7.3% (as of Sept 2022) and is expected to continue climbing before plateauing in late 2023, early 2024. This has and will continue to place enormous strain on the household budgets of NAB colleagues. 

However, NAB’s pay model and EA position disregards these inflationary pressures and prioritises external interests i.e., shareholders and maintaining record profit outcomes above colleagues’ best interests. This has and will again mean the standard of living of thirty thousand NAB colleagues will be eroded by compounding annual real wage cuts. 

Members have experienced job insecurity due to extensive branch closures, offshoring, and restructures. Workload pressures have required colleagues to consistently work upward of 50 hours a week, including on weekends and annual leave without recognition or compensation. This has been caused by ineffective workforce planning systems and a culture of silence by Senior Executives resulting in physical, mental, and emotional harms over years. NAB’s EA proposal has no solutions on how to solve these issues.  

Yet as CEO Ross McEwan received a 130% pay increase this year and NAB has posted recorded billion-dollar profits, Management is proposing to remove long standing conditions like Annual leave loading which will leave colleagues financially worse-off. 

FSU member’s priorities through this round of bargaining included securing genuine pay increases, reasonable hours of work, realistic workloads, improved leave arrangements and a fairer workplace but NAB has refused to genuinely engage on these topics.  

Vote No to Management’s proposal, bring them back to the bargaining table, and secure a fair deal. 



Group 1 and 2 

Group 1 and 2 employees have been offered the following:  

  Jan 2023   Jan 2024  
Under$100K   5%   4%  
Over $100K   4.5%   3.5%  


Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

This proposal is against a backdrop of a 7.45% increase in the cost of living in 2022 and a predicted 4.5-5% increase in the cost of living in 2023/24. 

As the cost of everyday goods and essentials (such as groceries, mortgage repayments and power) outpaces our wages, NAB’s proposal would mean we take a pay cut in real terms of between 2-3% each year of the EA. 

Group’s 3 and 4 

The offer from NAB is for anyone earning up to $165,000 TEC to receive a 3% increase in January 2023.  This is not to be included in the enterprise agreement and would therefore not be an enforceable entitlement.

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

There would be nothing to prevent NAB from withdrawing this commitment, and staff would have no recourse whatsoever.   

On top of the offer being a real wage cut, you would revert to the of the end of year review and discretionary pool approach.  

The central issues with the end of year review and pool allocation approach are:   

1) There is no methodology or requirement to consider the interests of Group 3 and above workers in setting the value of the pool. This has and will again lead to decisions on your pay increases being influenced by external factors with no relevance to you such as the market, customer, and shareholder expectations.  

2) The allocation of the pool is subjective and at managerial discretion. Managerial decisions on pay outcomes for Group 3 and above are unfairly conflicted as they must balance mandated budget reductions against fair increases for colleagues.  

3) Pool allocation increases the Gender Pay Gap. The pool approach has led the sector to be one of the most inequitable in the country with the worst gender pay gap of any industry.   

NAB’s proposal would further entrench a pay system that has consistently delivered a reduction of pay in real terms for the last decade.  


Workloads and Hours of Work

The proposition from NAB would allow members to work as many as 50 hours per week without any trigger or recourse for those additional hours being worked. 

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

The proposal from NAB provides absolutely no comfort whatsoever to Groups 4 through 6 members who would likewise be struggling with their workloads and managing the unreasonable hours that NAB demand.  

FSU has proposed several common-sense solutions for the problems including identifying the number of hours that an employees expected to work so that you have a baseline for whether you are being asked to do an unreasonable number of hours. This is not only consistent with other industrial instruments, but we also consider this to be my best practise model. 

At the time of writing NAB has rejected this proposal. 


“You Leave” 

The proposition from NAB is that you will be entitled to an additional week’s leave where you have met your annual leave, RDO and any long service leave reduction requirements within a performance year. The leave would then become available to be used within that same year.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

Much ink has been spilt already on this leave proposal from NAB.  Management are of the view that this proposal will dramatically improve work-life balance for staff who can access it.  

In analysing this claim there is a lot to like about it at face value. Where staff can meet the requirements to access the leave, that extra week would be of some benefit.  

However, there is a difficulty when considering how this leave type would function in the real world. To qualify, you would be required to take four weeks of annual leave, any RDOs you were entitled to, and any long service leave that you needed to clear in any given year. You would then be able to access one additional week’s leave to be used before the conclusion of that performance year – having already taken at least four weeks of leave. 

Functionally, access to this leave would be incredibly restrictive and while there may be some limited benefit available to some people, for the overwhelming majority, it is unlikely in the extreme that you will ever be able to access this type of leave.  



NAB’s proposal is to grandfather RDO’s for existing Group 1 and 2 colleagues and then abolish the entitlement for any new staff joining after the commencement of this new agreement.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

RDOs are an important and workable work-life balance measure that have been fought for over an incredibly long period of time  

Grandfathering RDO’s undermines how long they remain available for existing colleagues. Overtime most of the workforce will not have access to the entitlement, it therefore becomes easier for Management to remove them from the EA all together.  

Further, existing staff are being asked to deny this benefit to any future employee that might join the bank in exchange for pay. This kind of divide and conquer strategy is fundamentally hostile to collective bargaining and to the culture of the organisation. If NAB recognises this benefit is good enough for existing staff, then is should be applicable to future staff.  

The ability for members to be able to take a day off at their discretion to do with as they see fit is a tremendous benefit and one that should be zealously guarded into the future.  


Annual leave loading

NAB wants to remove the current 17.5% annual leave loading via a one-off increase to base pay.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

The major issue is that members will be financially worse off. Currently, the dollar value of your Annual Leave Loading increases as your salary increases. NAB’s proposal of a once off buy-out at today’s value ignores any future increases in salary and improvements to annual leave loading. 

It is impossible to separate future pay positions to ensure that the 17.5% annual leave loading is accounted for.  


Group 2 annualised salary

The proposal from NAB would enable them to put Group 2 employees working in technology roles on to annualised (“packaged”) salary arrangements akin to those found in Group 3 to 7 roles.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

It could potentially see some Group 2 employees missing overtime payments, shift payments and other important entitlements that other Group 2 employees have access to in the EA.    

Management’s justification for this has been that technology roles are different because the recruitment pool within the economy is much broader; to attract technology employees NAB is not only competing with other banks but with other technology companies.  

While there is some truth to this assertion, this is not unique to technology roles and creates a very slippery slope for the reduction of important entitlements for other employees.  


Span of our working hours 

NAB is seeking to expand the span of ordinary hours from 7:00 am and 9:00 pm to operate between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

Firstly, we need to unpack what this means. The span of ordinary hours is the period where employees can be required to perform their ordinary duties. It is what might otherwise be described as the workday.    

The proposal to expand the span of ordinary hours would give management the discretion to direct an employee to commence work as early as 6:00 am or to complete their work at 10:00 pm at night. Currently this can only occur via mutual agreement between the colleague and manager.  

It accrues greater power into the hands of management and gives them greater control over when you perform your work.  


Notice periods

The proposal from NAB is that mandatory notice periods be converted to minimum notice periods within the enterprise agreement.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

While this may seem like a minor change, it does give more power to management to lean on employees for longer notice periods and removes the certainty of how long a notice you need to give in circumstances where you wish to leave the bank.   


Parental Leave

NAB has made a claim to improve the rights of parents within the bank. The main part of the claim is to improve paid parental leave from 12 weeks to 16 weeks and allow any parent involved in pregnancy, adoption, and/or long-term foster arrangement, to access the leave from the earliest possible point. The elements of the claim are to introduce prenatal leave for birth parents and non-birth parents as well as giving greater rights to parents who experience pregnancy loss.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

While these are all very positive changes and many of them do align with the FSU claim to improve parenting rights within the agreement, this claim is based entirely on NAB keeping pace with the other big four banks and is not them taking a leadership position whatsoever.  

The FSU claim for parental leave was 26 weeks based on the overwhelming evidence from organisations that deal with parenting as well as UNICEF and the World Health Organisation. NAB has presented no counterevidence or position as to why 16 weeks is an appropriate level merely that they think that it is a reasonable and good offer.  

Lastly, the implementation of this provision is only proposed to be retrospective for a period of four weeks post the approval date of the EA. This approach causes a disadvantage for new parents just prior to this timeframe. 


Long Service Leave

The position of NAB would see access to long service leave made easier for staff who want to take their leave at periods of one week rather than two.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

While this may result in a minor benefit, the substantive issue of when the Bank can direct colleagues to take long service leave and how much leave can be directed to be used have gone unresolved.  


Annual Leave Accrual

The proposal from NAB is to reduce annual leave accrual when taking periods of leave without pay. Currently staff are entitled to accrue annual leave on periods of leave without pay for up to 9 days. 

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

While this is a minor change and one that will only affect a minority of staff, it is another example of NAB wanting to nickel and dime you across this agreement.  


Penalty rates and Premium rates

There are three major proposals that deal with penalty rates.  

Firstly, the reduction of the Group 3 and 4 casual loading down from 27.5% to 25%.  

Secondly, is to pay the applicable penalty rights and loadings for each hour of work rather than the majority that applies to your relevant period of work. 

Thirdly, NAB proposes to clarify that loadings/premiums within the agreement are non-cumulative (excluding casual loading & Christmas day loading) thereby decreasing public holiday loading from 300% to 250% for public holidays worked on weekends.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

The major issue is that members will be financially worse off. This is a claim that will affect a small number of people, but it is just another grab by NAB for small amounts of money out of your pocket.  

It’s another minor change, but could have a substantial effect on some lower paid workers.  


Shift penalty increases 

There is little doubt that increasing the afternoon and night shift penalties is a good thing for those members who regularly work afternoon and night shifts. It is worth noting however, that these increases merely bring NAB into line with the majority of other employers within the sector


Higher Duties

Under the proposal from NAB you would not be entitled to higher duties unless you worked in Groups 1 to 3 and had worked in the role for more than four days consecutively.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

This is a change to reverse an important gain made by members in previous negotiations and one that is entirely unjustified by management.  


District Allowance, Relief Allowance & Special Duties

Remove entitlement to district allowance, relief audit and special duties allowance from the EA. Colleagues who receive the allowance immediately prior to the new EA will have it rolled into their TEC as a once off. Colleagues who received relief audit or special duties allowance within the 12 months prior to the new EA will have the amount received rolled into their TEC as a once off.  

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

The major issue is that members will be financially worse off. Currently the value of district allowances are adjusted every year. NAB’s proposal of a once off buy-out at today’s value ignores any future increases and improvements to these allowances. 

While this is a position that applies to a small number of employees it is nevertheless an important one for those who currently receive the allowance.  


Gender Affirmation leave 

NAB to include a provision within the EA that provides persons of diverse gender identities up to 12 months leave (including up to four weeks paid) to support their gender affirmation journey.

Why colleagues should Vote No to this proposal

While this is an improvement on their initial position of policy only, it still puts NAB out of step with the other leaders in the sector who provide six weeks of paid leave and the balance of 12 months of unpaid leave for the purpose of gender affirmation.


What happens next?

Under our current laws an employer can put an EA proposal to staff at any time. This is what NAB has decided to do. However, this provides an important opportunity to send a strong message to the bank. 

Management are obligated to give all employees covered by the EA one week to consider a draft of their proposal before the ballot is conducted. Management will provide instructions on how to vote in the upcoming ballot. This usually involves an electronic link provided by an independent provider. 

Make sure that you are ready to vote no on ballot day and please talk to your friends and colleagues about voting No as well. 


Talk to your colleagues 

To stop NAB’s proposal going forward it will take a majority of employees who vote in the ballot to vote NO. This means that if more than 50% of all those who vote reject NAB’s management’s offer, the proposal fails, and we will initiate further negotiations for improved outcomes. 

You need to speak to your colleagues and ask them to commit to voting No.


Top 5 reasons your colleagues should Vote No


1) It’s a pay cut in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis 

The cost of everyday goods and essentials is going up, inflation at its highest point in thirty years currently at 7.3% and expected to go higher. NAB’s proposal fails to keep pace with inflation and will result in an effective cut in your real wages. Your household budget will be stretched thinner as you will be paying more on bills and everyday goods leaving you less every fortnight. 

2) Cuts to long standing conditions  

NAB’s proposal removes and undermines long standing, hard fought for conditions won by Union members. Changes to RDO’s, Annual Leave Loading, High Duties, District Allowances, Premium Rates will leave colleagues financially worse off and make it harder to strike a balance between work and life.  

3) We’ll be working longer, harder and for less 

NAB’s proposal ignores the chronic understaffing in branches, Business Bank, and all other business units. There will be no change to the excessive hours of work required by colleagues in Group’s 3 and above, in fact NAB’s proposal will further embed the culture of overwork.  

4) We can achieve a good deal  

NAB is forecast to announce a record profit of $7Billion this financial year. What we are asking for is reasonable and affordable. By working together we can ensure we achieve a good deal.  

5) We deserve better  

Through-out the COVID-19 pandemic colleagues consistently stepped up and played a critical role in keeping the community functioning and NAB operating. We’ve helped achieve record profits and strong returns to shareholders. Our Executives have received significant bonuses and the CEO has received a 130% increase to his pay. We deserve to be treated with dignity and respect at work and in our pay.  


What happens when we successfully Vote NO to NAB’s proposal?

In recent years ANZ employees voted NO when ANZ put an inferior proposal out for ballot without the support of Union members. FSU members and staff won that ‘NO Vote’ campaign and ANZ returned with a far better pay offer shortly after. 

If staff reject NAB’s EA proposal, the Bank will be under enormous pressure to return with a better offer. All parties would continue to be bound by the Good Faith Bargaining provisions in the Fair Work Act that requires NAB to continue engaging with the FSU on our bargaining claims. 

Management cannot ignore the clear mandate that staff will have provided by rejecting their pay cut agenda and importantly, we will be in the strongest possible position to secure real improvements on base salary for all staff without loss of conditions.  

Voting NO at the ballot will provide an incredible opportunity to achieve a real pay outcome that addresses the enormous inflationary pressures we all face and matches other employers within our industry. 

Voting No is how we get a fair deal!  


Union members have commenced negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) at NAB.

It has never been tougher working at NAB, that’s why we are fighting for wages and conditions that deliver quality of life improvements across all the Bank.

See what we are fighting for and how to get involved...

Real Wage increases

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Abolish excessive hours of work

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Genuine work from home options

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Staffing ratios in branches

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An inclusive workplace

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