Class exemption

  • The ACCC can create a class exemption that covers a certain type of business conduct.
  • Class exemption is one process for gaining an exemption.
  • When conduct is covered by a class exemption, businesses can go ahead with the activity without the risk of breaching the relevant provisions of competition law.
  • Relying on a relevant class exemption is an alternative to applying for authorisation or lodging a notification.
  • There is an active class exemption for small business collective bargaining.

What the ACCC does

  • We manage the small business collective bargaining class exemption.
  • We develop new class exemptions in consultation with business and other stakeholders.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t give legal advice.

About class exemptions

Typically, businesses that are planning conduct that risks breaching competition rules in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 need to seek an exemption for each arrangement.

However, the ACCC can also create class exemptions.

A class exemption:

  • covers a certain type of business conduct
  • may be limited to specified people, circumstances or conditions.

Once a class exemption is active, businesses can self-assess whether their planned activity is covered by the class exemption.

If covered by the class exemption, the arrangements don't need to be individually assessed. The business can go ahead with the activity without applying for authorisation or lodging a notification.

There may be a requirement to notify the ACCC to qualify for the exemption.

Active class exemptions

Active class exemptions are listed on the class exemptions register

There is currently one active class exemption covering collective bargaining by smaller businesses.

Small business collective bargaining class exemption

The collective bargaining class exemption is an active class exemption.

This exemption allows eligible businesses to negotiate with their customers or suppliers as a group, without the risk of breaching competition laws. Without some form of legal protection, this kind of joint bargaining would be at risk of breaching competition laws.

To be covered by this class exemption, the collective bargaining group must submit a notice form to the ACCC.

See Collective bargaining and collecting boycotts for information on the businesses covered by this class exemption and the notification process.

    How new class exemptions are created

    We can develop new class exemptions when we are satisfied that a specific type of business conduct is unlikely to substantially lessen competition or is in the public interest.

    We identify conduct where a new class exemption may be appropriate.

    Businesses can also suggest new class exemptions, which the ACCC may consider.

    When developing a new class exemption, the ACCC consults widely by inviting submissions from stakeholders. Current consultations are listed on the class exemptions register.

    See also

    Class exemptions register

    Collective bargaining and collective boycotts

    Collective bargaining class exemption guidelines ( PDF 294.33 KB )

    Small business collective bargaining notice form

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