Right of Entry for Businesses in Australia:
A Guide for Employers
One of the stated objects of the right of entry provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 is to establish a balance between:
- The rights of organisations to represent their members in the workplace, hold discussions with potential members and investigate suspected breaches of the Fair Work Act, Awards and Workplace Safety laws on the one hand; and, on the other hand
- The rights of occupiers and employers to conduct their businesses without undue interference or harassment.
What is the Right of Entry for businesses in Australia?
The Right of Entry is a provision under Australian law that allows authorised representatives of trade unions or employee associations to enter a workplace to hold discussions with employees or investigate possible breaches of industrial relations laws.
Who can exercise the Right of Entry?
A: Only authorised representatives of registered trade unions or employee associations can exercise the Right of Entry. These representatives must hold a valid entry permit issued by the Fair Work Commission.
What are the requirements for an authorised representative to obtain an entry permit?
To obtain an entry permit, an authorised representative must meet certain criteria, such as being a fit and proper person and having completed an approved training course. They must also be a member or an officer of the relevant trade union or employee association.
When can an authorised representative exercise the Right of Entry?
An authorised representative can exercise the Right of Entry during working hours, but only after giving the employer or the occupier of the workplace at least 24 hours’ notice. The notice must include the purpose of the visit and the names of the employees they wish to meet.
What can an authorised representative do during a Right of Entry visit?
An authorised representative can hold discussions with employees on matters relating to their employment or investigate possible breaches of industrial relations laws. They can also inspect relevant documents and take copies of them, but only with the employer’s consent or a court order.
Can an employer refuse entry to an authorised representative?
An employer can refuse entry to an authorised representative if they do not hold a valid entry permit, the notice requirements have not been met, or if the representative’s conduct is unreasonable. However, if the employer unreasonably refuses entry, they may be subject to legal action.
What are the penalties for breaching the Right of Entry provisions?
Penalties may apply for refusing, delaying or obstructing entry of a permit holder.
How can employers prepare for a Right of Entry visit?
Employers can prepare for a Right of Entry visit by ensuring that their policies and practices comply with industrial relations laws, keeping accurate and up-to-date records, and training their staff on how to deal with authorised representatives. Employers can also seek legal advice if they have concerns about a proposed visit.
About Employment Innovations
Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.
The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.
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