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Can we request an HSR to attend a training course?

Q: Can a PCBU (e.g. a principal contractor) require a health and safety representative (HSR) to attend the 5-day course in health and safety consultation? We are based in NSW.

A: In NSW, section 72 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (WHS Act) and section 21 of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW) (WHS Regulations) deal with the obligations of a PCBU in relation to HSR

The WHS Act requires a PCBU to allow HSRs to attend a training course in work health and safety, if requested (by the HSR). Otherwise, there is no mandatory requirement for HSRs to attend training.

If an HSR requests training, a PCBU must:

  • within 3 months of the request, allow the HSR to be absent from work to attend training; and
  • pay the course fees and other reasonable costs associated with attendance at the course in addition to the HSRs ordinary pay for the duration of the course.

The training course must be approved by SafeWork NSW, that the HSR is entitled to attend under the Regulations, and that the HSR chooses in consultation with the PCBU.

The Regulations provide further detail as to the type of course that an HSR is entitled to attend, which includes:

  • an initial training course of 5 days; and
  • 1 day of refresher training each year, with the entitlement to the first refresher training commencing 1 year after the initial training.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Health and safety representatives and committees for current advice.

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