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Australian Childcare Alliance
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We have recently received some queries from members about their legal rights when representatives from the Union seek entry to talk to the early childhood educators.

When a workplace is approached by officials representing an organisation such as a trade union, who wish to enter the premises, this type of activity is regulated by provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009.

In particular, these laws seek to balance:

  • the right of organisations to represent their members in the workplace, hold discussions with potential members, and investigate suspected contraventions of workplace laws and instruments, using occupational health and safety laws; and
  • the right of occupiers of premises and employers to go about their business without undue convenience.

In order to enter your premises, an organisation official must have a valid and current entry permit from the Fair Work Commission. The employer is entitled to request the union official to produce that permit. The official must confirm in writing, at least 24 hours before any visit, that the official intends to exercise their right of entry (with the exception of workplace health and safety matters). ​

Union officials cannot force you to call a meeting of staff during working hours but they do have a right to hold discussions with members, or potential members, during meal times or other breaks.  You can agree with the union official on the room or area of the Centre in which the discussions will be held.  If you can’t agree, the discussions must be held in the room or area where employees ordinarily take meals or other breaks.

There are a number of other conditions that may need to be met before a trade union can legally enter a workplace so if your service is approached by one or more people representing a trade union and you are not sure what your legal rights are as an employer, contact ACA Qld’s contracted IR advisors, Employer Services, on (07) 3220 3500 to receive free advice as part of your ACA Qld membership.