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Last updated December 2023

This chapter explains how a union is comprised, and when a union official may enter your workplace for health and safety purposes.

What is a union?

Definition: Union

A union is either:
- an employee organisation that is registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (Cth) (Registered Organisations Act); or
- an association of employees or independent contractors that is registered under a state or territory industrial law.
Important: Since most unions are registered under the Registered Organisations Act, this chapter will focus on those unions and the rules under which they operate.

Unions and employer associations registered under the Registered Organisations Act are overseen by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

There are two types of groups that can form a union under the Registered Organisations Act:

  1. An ordinary association of employees (i.e. an association that is not restricted to a single workplace or business) that has at least 50 members who have been employees for 6 months prior to registering as a union.
  2. An enterprise association (i.e. an association consisting of employees who work in the same enterprise) that has at least 20 members who are employees at the time the association registers to become a union.