Right of entry arrangements

Context

Right of entry refers to the part of Commonwealth workplace laws which regulate the rights of organisation officials (such as a trade union) to enter premises.

Position

There is still some confusion about how union visits should proceed at a workplace. Consideration should be given to providing an employer with as much information as possible, so they know what to expect from the visit.

The Act should be amended to require the union to specify in the Entry Notice, which must be given 24 hours prior to the meeting, the general purpose/nature of the visit, the date of the proposed visit and whether they will be attending either during an authorised rest break or the regular meal break.

Union permits should have a photograph identifying the union representative, similar to a drivers licence. Right of entry should be regulated under the Act and not be a permitted matter for variation through an Enterprise Agreement.

Unions are not limited in terms of the number of 'right of entry' permits they can request for a business. This can particularly effect small businesses, where a union can obtain regular 23 entry permits over a relatively short period of time. Employers are becoming increasingly frustrated with union officials requesting repeat visits to workplaces where there is no interest from employees, who end up eating their lunch outside of their own lunchroom.

Recommendations

  • Entry Notices should have the time of the proposed visit (either authorised rest break or regular meal break) and  outline the general purpose/nature of the visit.
  • Union permits should have a photograph of the union official.
  • The workplace lunch room is not the property of a union and the venue for a meeting should be based on an available meeting room to suit the business’ operating requirements.
  • That regulation of right of entry remain in the Act, rather than through enterprise agreements.
  • The FWC should give consideration when granting right of entry permits, in respect to the number of permits previously granted to a business in the last 12 month period.

18 June 2015