Netball collective playing agreement takes centre court

There has been much attention on the new Netball Australia collective agreement (Agreement) announced last week. The Agreement, described as a “landmark deal” for women’s sport increases the minimum player salary from $13,250 per year to $27,375 per year.

In what is seen as a move toward professionalism for the sport, all National Netball League players will now be signed to a 12 month part-time contract for an average of 20 hours per week. This was viewed as a significant achievement as often other professional sporting contracts provide that an athlete is employed on casual basis (and therefore not entitled to leave or other entitlements). Players will be given “protected hours” between 10am and 4pm to allow them to engage in additional work or pursue studies.

In addition, a parental care policy for players with children under 12 months of age will now be provided. Players (employed under the Agreement) who return to the sport after having a child will be provided with the assistance of a carer when they are required to travel with their children.

Interestingly, the issue of child care for female athletes was highlighted in the discrimination complaint by a former member of the Australian women’s national football team against Football Federation Australia (FFA). While the discrimination claim was ultimately found by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to be without basis, FFA came under scrutiny when it refused to cover the costs incurred by the player to have her mother accompany her to take care of her 11 month old baby.

Other benefits reached under the Agreement now available to players include the cost of private health insurance (up to $1,500 per year) and income protection for earnings up to two years due to injury or pregnancy.

Commentators have argued that the “landmark deal” will place pressure on other women’s sport competitions, including the W-League, Women’s Big Bash League and the AFL Women’s League to increase the minimum salary available to players. 

Shane Koelmeyer is a leading workplace relations lawyer and Director at Workplace Law. Workplace Law is a specialist law firm providing employers with legal advice, training and representation in all aspects of workplace relations, employment-related matters and WH&S.

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