Union Right of Entry

Union Right of Entry

Union Right of Entry (Oct 2010)
This article examines what Right of Entry involves and Employers obligations surrounding this issue.

Union officials do not have an automatic right to enter worksites within Australia. The Fair Work Act 2009 (FW
Act) specifies that a Union member must comply with a number of requirements to gain the right to enter
worksites. A union official has the right to enter a worksite if they hold a valid and current right of entry permit
issued by Fair Work Australia.

A union official who has gained a valid and current right of entry permit issued by Fair Work Australia may only
enter a worksite to:
1. Investigate suspected breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 and other instruments.
• Must reasonably suspect that a contravention has occurred, and
• suspected contravention relates to, or affects, a member of your union who performs work on
the site, and
• union is entitled to represent the member’s industrial interests.
2. Meet with employees whom:
• Perform work on the worksite, and
• The Union is allowed to represent the industrial interests of the employees, and
• Who want to be a part of the meeting.
3. Exercise rights under occupational health and safety laws (OHS).
• Health and safety issues.

Before entering your worksite, the Union official must hold a valid and current federal permit and provide you with
at least 24 hours and no more than 14 days written notice of entry. However, under certain circumstances an
exemption may be given by Fair Work Australia if they suspect that notice of entry might result in the destruction
of evidence relevant to the suspected contravention.
The visit to the worksite must be held during working hours.
PLEASE NOTE: The 24 hour written notice period may not apply if the entry is under an OHS law. However, the
Union official will still be required to present an current and valid federal permit and will not be allowed to inspect
employment records.

While on premises, a permit holder may do any of the following:
• Inspect work, processes or objects;
• Interview certain people who agree to be interviewed;
• Require the occupier or an affect employer to allow the inspection and copying of any record or
document kept on, or accessible from, the premises;
• When a breach being investigated concerned an allegation that an employee had their
overtime cut for having made a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman, the permit holder
could only inspect and copy overtime records of the relevant employees, but could not inspect
or copy, e.g., records of employees’ superannuation or managerial employees’ salaries;
• If personal information is collected by a permit holder the use, disclosure and storage of that
information may be regulated by the Privacy Act 1988;
• A permit holder can require the production of records or documents when on the premises or
up to 5 days afterwards;
• The documents or records required by the permit holder can be provided either at the premises
or at another location agreed between the permit holder and the affect employer.
When entering a worksite for discussion purposes a permit holder may only hold discussions during mealtimes or
other breaks. If a permit holder seeks to hold discussions outside break times, she or he would not be authorized
to enter or remain on the premises.

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