Rights and responsibilities when on site
Union officials have specific rights once they are lawfully on site.
Rights of a union official while on site
Union officials who hold a valid federal right of entry permit may enter premises for the purpose of investigating suspected contraventions of the FW Act or FW instrument that relates to or affects a member of the Union they are representing. When investigating suspected contraventions, union officials have the right to:
- inspect any work, process or object relevant to a suspected breach
- interview any person about a suspected breach
- who agrees to be interviewed and
- the union is entitled to represent
- inspect and make copies of records of union members that are directly relevant to the suspected contravention and that are kept on the site or are accessible on a computer kept on the site
- inspect and make copies of any record of a person who is not a union member that is directly relevant to the suspected contravention and that is kept on the site or accessible on a computer provided the non-member has consented in writing or an order has been made by the Fair Work Commission
- serve a notice on the employer to produce records or documents at a later date
- use the employees regular meal room to hold discussions or interviews
- exercise these rights without being hindered or obstructed.
Responsibilities of a union official while on site
While on site union officials should:
- comply with the site occupier or other employer’s reasonable requests to:
- comply with a work health and safety (WHS) requirement that applies
- the route they should take to access rooms or areas
- produce the permit holder's authority documents for inspection:
- when requested to do so by the occupier of the premises or an affected employer
- when inspecting or requesting records.
While on site permit holders should NOT:
- use or disclose any information or document obtained when investigating a suspected breach for an unrelated purpose, unless authorised to do so by the FW Act
- when entering to hold discussions, hold those discussions with employees other than during meal times or other breaks
- misrepresent the authority granted to the union official under the FW Act
- enter any part of a premises that is mainly used for residential purposes
- intentionally hinder or obstruct any person or act in an improper manner.
Responsibilities of employers for site inspections
An employer, site occupier, or other person must NOT:
- refuse or unduly delay entry to a permit holder entitled to enter the site
- refuse or fail to comply with a permit holder’s request to produce or provide access to records or documents
- intentionally hinder or obstruct a permit holder who is exercising their right of entry powers
- intentionally or recklessly give an impression that doing something is authorised by the right of entry provisions of the FW Act when it is not.
Need more information?
For further information, advice or assistance please contact the ABCC at 1800 003 338 or enquiry [at] abcc.gov.au.