1 min read

Can you clarify who can demand access to a workplace without prior notification?

Q: We wish to provide a short summary to our reception staff on rights of entry in relation to the following people:

  • health and safety inspectors;
  • Fair Work Inspectors;
  • union delegates or representatives; and
  • any other person purporting to have authorisation.

Naturally, we are aware that all licences and authorisations should be requested. However, we are unsure who can demand access to the workplace without prior notification.

A: A health and safety inspector has a right to enter a premises without notice, but on request must identify themselves and show their authority.

A Fair Work Inspector has the right to enter a premises without an appointment to monitor compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) or instruments made under it. The same generally applies to Fair Work Building Industry Inspectors under the Fair Work Building Industry Act 2012 (Cth).

A union official may only enter a workplace if:

  • they have a relevant entry permit; and
  • all the other requirements under right of entry legislation have been met.

A permit holder must fax or deliver an entry notice nominating the day they want to enter your workplace. The entry notice must be given to you at least 24 hours prior to the visit and not more than 14 days before the permit holder plans to enter your workplace.

The exception to this is if the permit holder is seeking entry to inquire into suspected contraventions of the Work Health and Safety Act, in which case they can enter the workplace without giving any prior notice.

We recommend that you review chapters U1 Unions and E2 Enforcement and Prosecution regarding rights of entry for union officials and inspectors.

Additionally, chapter R4 Right of Entry of the Employment Law Practical Handbook details rights of entry with a specific focus on:

  • Fair Work Inspectors;
  • Fair Work Building Industry Inspectors;
  • health and safety inspectors; and
  • union officials.

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

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