Right of Entry is a provision under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), which gives employee organisations the right to enter your workplace under different circumstances. Some of these circumstances include the ability to have discussions with members, represent members and investigate contraventions of relevant laws. An employee organisation, for example, can be a trade union. As an employer, it’s helpful to know your rights and responsibilities when dealing with the right of entry.
Who can enter my workplace?
An organisation official can enter your workplace if they have a valid permit from the Fair Work Commission (“the Commission”). The Commission only issues permits if they decide the official is fit and proper, has appropriate training and understands their role as a permit holder. Fair Work Inspectors can also enter your workplace to make sure you are complying with workplace laws.
What can they do?
An organisation official can investigate possible contraventions of workplace laws where they have reasonable grounds to believe they are occurring. They can only do this if it affects at least one member of their organisation, they are entitled to represent that member and the member works in your workplace.
You should receive an entry notice at least 24 hours but not more than 14 days before they can come to inspect the premises. The official can inspect any work, processes and interview any person about the issue if they agree. They can also request to inspect and make copies of records that are directly relevant to the issue.
The Entry Permit can also permit an official into your workplace to have discussions with employees who they are entitled to represent, work at your workplace and wish to participate. They must provide the same amount of notice as above and can only hold meetings during mealtimes or other breaks.
What can’t they do?
Officials with permits cannot intentionally hinder any person or act inappropriately when going about their business. They also cannot misrepresent who they are or give the impression they can do things they are not allowed to do.
What can I do as an employer?
You can refuse entry to an official if they do not provide their permit documents if you request them or if they don’t reasonably comply with your workplace OH&S policies or unreasonably refuse to take a particular route to reach an area. You also don’t need to provide access to documents or records if it would break any State or Territory laws.
As an employer, you can’t refuse or delay their entry into the workplace or refuse or fail to comply with their request to produce relevant records. You can’t intentionally prevent them from exercising their rights and you can’t give the impression you are authorised to do things you are not.
If you believe the Permit holder has violated their right of entry, you can apply to the Fair Work Commission for help. They can then suspend, cancel or impose conditions on the Entry Permit. There are also penalties that can apply if the right of entry laws are abused.
If you have any questions about your rights and obligations as an employer concerning the Right of Entry, please get in touch with one of LegalVision’s experienced employment lawyers on 1300 544 755.