Union activity on the rise – be aware of your rights


Recent media coverage has highlighted increased union activity in Australian workplaces, including brawls on the Cross River Rail project.

New laws in Qld

This uptick in union activity coincides with amendments to the Queensland Work Health Safety Act which commenced on 20 May 2024. These amendments afford greater rights to unions exercising their right of entry, as outlined below.

  • Permit holders are permitted to enter a workplace to deliver a notice of entry.
  • Entry notices will not be invalidated due to minor administrative errors (e.g. spelling mistakes or incorrect names) if the person or union is otherwise sufficiently identified.
  • Permit holders can enter a workplace to investigate suspected contraventions of the WHS Act or Electrical Safety Act 2002 (Qld) and remain there during regular working hours to complete their investigation.
  • Permit holders who give an entry notice will not be required to issue additional notices to view employee records or documents kept at or accessible the workplace, or to consult with workers regarding suspected contraventions.
  • Permit holders will not be required to comply with WHS requirements if doing so would unduly delay or unreasonably prevent or hinder their right of entry (e.g. attending a remote off-site induction, or complying with unnecessary exclusion zones).
  • Permit holders may use, disclose, or give access to information gained from its investigation if it’s necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to public health or safety.

Permit & Notice requirements

Given the increase in union activity and above amendments, site personnel should be aware of the necessary permits and notices that unions are required to have when exercising their right of entry. We have summarised the relevant requirements in the below table.

Right of entry flowcharts

Batch Mewing Lawyers have created detailed flow charts to help site officers manage unions’ right of entry into the workplace. Please feel free to reach out to the EIRS Team to request a copy of the flow charts.

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