Union Right of Entry


25 Nov, 2016

One of the most controversial parts of employing staff in Australia is the right of unions to enter your premises.


Union Right of Entry

The key thing to remember is that a union representative has no automatic right of entry to your workplace.

They can enter if you as the employer agrees for them to enter.

They can also enter if they have a valid right-of-entry permit issued by the Fair Work Commission and they wish to visit your workplace:

To look into a suspected breach of workplace laws, including:

  • the National Employment Standards
  • an award
  • a registered agreement or
  • workplace healthy and safety laws (in some states and territories), or

Because a worker wishes to speak to them.

When union officials enter a workplace, they can speak with workers only if:

  • The workers are at the workplace, and they want to speak to them, or
  • There is a suspected breach, and the worker is entitled to be represented by the union.

When entering a workplace, a union official must give you written notice of at least 24 hours but no more than 14 days before their intended visit.



What Unions Can Do When they Enter Your Workplace

Where there is a suspected breach, union officials can:

  • Inspect any work, process or object that relates to the breach.
  • Interview any person related to the suspected breach, if the person is:
    • entitled to be represented by the union and
    • willing to meet with the union.
  • Meet with employees if the employees are:
    • entitled to be represented by the union and
    • willing to meet with the union.
  • Access records relating to the breach (this means they can inspect & copy them).

What Unions Can’t Do When they Enter Your Workplace

Unions can’t:

  • Ask to see the records of a non-union member, except with the permission from the person or under a Commission order.
  • Talk with employees during paid work time – discussions have to be during meal and other breaks.

General Comments

Confrontation simply for the sake of it hurts everyone.

In my experience, working together in a positive way with unions that cover your workplace can build morale within your team and help identify and resolve problems in a workplace.

Often a union will hear problems in your business that management knows nothing about. If you go in with a positive mindset relating to unions, everyone (including your business) can benefit.

Aim for positive, constructive relations with your team members and the unions that cover them, and try and resolve issues at the lowest possible level without escalation to the Commission.

Instant HR Policies & Procedures Manual

Need help with your HR?

The Instant HR Policies and Procedures Manual saves weeks of work in creating compliant human resources policies for your team.

Ingrid: Lead Author, Australian Employee Manual

HR Author and Lecturer with over 25 years' experience in human resources and workplace relations in Australia. Lead Author of Instant HR Policies & Procedures, NDIS Direct Employment HR Manual, and Employee Performance Reviews: Tips, Templates and Tactics.

About Us

We are an Australian human resources business specialising in small businesses and not for profits, based in Brisbane, Australia.


If you are an Employee and need HR Advice, call Fair Work Australia 13 13 94



Our Most Popular HR Product

Recent Posts

Related Posts

Minimum Wage Increased by 5.2%

Minimum Wage Increased by 5.2%

The Fair Work Commission has ruled that the National Minimum Wage will increase by 5.2% to $21.38 per hour. This represents an increase of $40 per week. They also ruled that modern award minimum rates will increase by 4.6%, subject to a minimum increase of $40 per...

read more
Updates to Our Employee Manual Products Released

Updates to Our Employee Manual Products Released

We have just released a series of updates to our Instant HR Policies and Procedures Manual, New Employee Inductions, NDIS Self Managers Direct Employment HR Manual and the NDIS Support Worker Agency HR Manual. Clients with current subscriptions to these products are...

read more
Minimum Wage Increased by 2.5%

Minimum Wage Increased by 2.5%

The Fair Work Commission handed down its annual minimum wage review on 16th June 2021. They ordered an increase of 2.5% on the minimum wage, increasing it to $20.33 per hour or $772.60 per week. While the increase will apply to most awards from 1st July 2021, some of...

read more