The Legal Language – Zombie Agreement

13 October 2021

Have you ever read something and thought, “I’m not sure what that means” or “is that really correct”? Welcome to our series of quickfire interviews that attempt to unravel those interesting words and phrases.

In this edition, we speak to Workplace Relations Special Counsel Victoria Comino who talks to us about the phrase she finds interesting, Zombie Agreement.

Zombie Agreement

What phrase have you chosen and what does it mean?

Zombie Agreement – This is a reference to various enterprise agreements made prior to the Fair Work Act 2009, as well as those agreements made during the bridging period prior to the commencement of the modern award system.

Why do you like this phrase?

Because I love a good Zombie spoof, ‘Shaun of the Dead’ anyone?

What’s been the most interesting use of this phrase that you have come across?

I find any use of this phrase makes me smile, but it is funniest when it’s shortened:
Client: We’re wondering how to approach the Zombie in our workplace.

When did you first come across this phrase in a Workplace context?

I first came across this word being used to describe an agreement (as opposed to a troublesome or non-performing employee) post Workchoices, when these agreements started to pass their expiry dates but continued to live on. There are less of them now because they have been replaced or “terminated” by the Fair Work Commission using a process far less dramatic and messy than those depicted in the movies.