Collective bargaining class exemption


The ACCC is seeking views on a potential ‘class exemption’ that would provide eligible small businesses, agribusinesses and franchisees with legal protection to collectively bargain with customers or suppliers, without having to apply to the ACCC.

A class exemption is a way for the ACCC to grant businesses an exemption from competition law for certain ‘classes of conduct’ that may otherwise carry a risk of breaching competition laws, but:

  • do not substantially lessen competition, and/or
  • are likely to result in overall public benefits.

This class exemption relates to collective bargaining, which is a process that allows competing businesses, such as farmers or retailers, to jointly negotiate with customers or suppliers over common issues (e.g. terms, conditions and/or prices). While collective bargaining may ordinarily breach competition laws, a class exemption would provide a ‘safe harbour’ for eligible businesses to collectively bargain without breaching the competition law. It would operate alongside the ACCC’s existing ‘authorisation’ and ‘notification’ processes, which a business that falls outside the class exemption could still use to seek legal protection on a case-by-case basis.

A Discussion Paper is available below, explaining the background and the specific questions we are seeking views on. Please email your comments to by COB 21 September 2018 with the subject “Collective bargaining class exemption – submission”.

Any submissions received will also be available below.

Initial public consultation