Many employers are unaware of how they should employ (and their obligations to) employees who are replacing an employee who is on unpaid...
UncategorizedFebruary 28, 2014
The political spotlight is firmly fixed on union activity, after the announcement of a royal commission into union governance and corruption, intimidation and standover tactics.
An employee’s right to freedom of association is protected by the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act). This means that employees are entitled to have their union enter the workplace for legitimate reasons and employers must be cautious when dealing with union officials, or risk claims and penalties for breaching the Act.
Right of entry
The Act provides union officials with a right of entry to the workplace to:
However, union officials are only entitled to enter the premises if they hold a right of entry permit issued by the Fair Work Commission and must usually provide at least 24 hours (but no more than 14 days) notice before entry.
So what should you do if union officials require entry to your workplace?
If you a faced with a visit from union officials remember the following tips.
Unless a specific contravention is provided in the notice, the union official is likely to be there to recruit new members or get members to vote in a specific way. Therefore, in most cases it is advisable to be polite and professional and not discourage your employees from meeting the officials. Otherwise your actions might serve to validate the visit and suggest that there are issues in the workplace, which may encourage employees to become members. If an employer is welcoming and no issues are raised by employees, union officials should turn their attention to other businesses.
Other reasons for union involvement
Apart from a right of entry, employees are also entitled to have their union officials represent them, for example, in consultation regarding working arrangements, negotiation of an enterprise agreement or resolving workplace disputes.
By Joanne Hall – Employment Relations Senior Advisor
Please contact Employsure for assistance if you receive a notice or visit from a union official or require any assistance in relation to matters where there is union involvement.