Unions have the right to enter the workplace to discuss employee conditions and contracts, and investigate possible breaches.

Right of Entry – Unions in the Workplace

In recent weeks, changes to the country’s employment landscape have fuelled discussion on the role of unions in the workplace.

As media moves into the digital age and companies look to maximise long-term profits, it is only natural that some restructuring initiatives would need to take place.

However, despite the best efforts of businesses to ensure that everyone gets a fair deal, there are times when employees will call on unions to increase or support their own bargaining power.

And while larger organisations often have the resources in place to fully cooperate with these changes to the negotiation process, the same is not always true for those who are running smaller operations.

Small business owners may want to improve their own knowledge of union right of entry laws in order to resolve workplace issues before the threat of a visit from officials.

In Australia, it is possible for union officials to make visits to your place of work. However, this is only possible at certain times and if the necessary arrangements have been made in order to prevent any misuse of power.


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Under the Fair Work Act – which was first introduced in 2009 – unions have the right to enter the workplace to discuss matters relating to employee conditions and contracts, as well as investigate possible breaches to the Act.

However, in order to do this, they must hold a valid right of entry permit issued by Fair Work Australia.

The person who holds the permit is required to give the organisation it intends to visit no less than 24 hours notice – and they are not allowed on site outside of work hours or to intentionally disrupt the employer’s business. Employee discussions are only to be held during mealtimes or other breaks.

Union representatives carrying a permit are also required to outline their reasons for entering the workplace, as well as agree to reasonable requests made by the employer to hold the meeting in a particular part of the business.

In special circumstances, it is possible for union officials to access employee records however there are strong penalties in place for any misuse of these documents.

Looking to learn more about employer rights in the workplace? The ERS Academy a hub of employment compliance training designed for small business owners and managers to get a better understanding of their rights and responsibilities under Australian legislation. Take a look by clicking here, you can even sign up for a free trial.

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