Right of entry - do you know what the legal obligations are?

Any request to enter a site should be referred to the company in control of the site. The legal obligations and how to respond to such a request will depend upon what the purpose of the visit is. It is generally one of three:

1 - To hold discussions with employees 

The right of entry provisions for Unions wanting to visit premises to talk to their members (or potential members) are dealt with in the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act) for employers that are constitutional corporations. 

Pursuant to 484 of the FW Act, a permit holder may enter premises for the purposes of holding discussions with employees:

            (a)        who perform work on the premises; and
            (b)        whose industrial interests the permit holder’s organisation is entitled to represent; and
            (c)        who wish to participate in those discussions.

A permit holder must give the occupier of the premises an entry notice for the entry at least 24 hours and not more than 14 days before entry and this notice must comply with the FW Act requirements. Upon entry the permit holder must produce their authority documents for inspection by the occupier of the premises on request.

This right of entry to hold discussions can only be exercised during mealtimes or other breaks and on the day specified in the entry notice and the permit holder must comply with any reasonable OSH request by the occupier of the premises.

2 – To inspect Electrical Licences

Some Union officials are appointed under legislation to inspect electrical licences and such a request to enter premises is not a right of entry under the FW Act and no notice is required. The following is from the Code of Practice for Inspectors in WA by Building and Energy.

3.2 Licence Inspectors

Certain employed officials of the Electrical Division of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) of Western Australia are designated as Inspectors (Electricity).

These persons have powers of inspection to inspect electrical licences for the purpose of assessing compliance with electrical licensing requirements under the Electricity Act. They
do not have the power to carry out inspections of electrical installing work or electrical installations. The powers of inspection exist only whilst the inspector is a full time paid
employee of the Union. These inspectors have the power to:

  • Enter without notice any land, premises or thing; and
  • Inspect, examine, inquire or request any information regarding electrical licences.

5.3 Electrical Licence Inspectors

A Licence Inspector shall:

  • Not use his/her powers of inspection to gain entry to premises or access to facilities for purposes other than those to which his or her powers relate;
  • Only inspect the licences of electrical operatives for compliance with the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991; and
  • Report any breach of the Electricity (Licensing) Regulations 1991 in respect of a licence examined or a person found without a licence (where a licence is required) to
    the Chief Electrical Inspector at Building and Energy without delay.

Furthermore, a Licence Inspector shall refrain from using his/her inspection powers in any way that may be seen as supporting or participating in any industrial disputation. If a site is
subject to an industrial dispute and there is a valid need for a licence inspection, then it is to be referred to the Chief Electrical Inspector at Building and Energy for action.

3 - To investigate suspected breaches of State legislation

Some Union officials are authorised by section 49I of the Industrial Relations Act (WA) to enter work sites to investigate suspected breaches of the WA Long Service Leave, Minimum Conditions of Employment, OSH and Mines Safety and Inspection Acts.

Before entry

Notice of Entry: A permit holder is not required to give notice to enter premises under the WA Industrial Relations Act.

However, to inspect employee records, a permit holder must give the occupier of the premises and any affected employer a written notice of their intention to inspect an employee record at least 24 hours before exercising the right.  The notice must set out their intention to exercise the right and the reasons for doing so.

While on the premises

A permit holder must not exercise a State or Territory OSH right unless they produce their entry permit when requested to do so by the occupier of the premises or the affected employer. Permit holder may:   

  • Inspect work, process or objects;
  • Request access and make copies of employee records or other documents kept by the employer that are related to the suspected breach. Note there are restrictions on what documents an employer is obliged to produce.

Conditions of entry 


  • Only during working hours; and
  • Must comply with the OSH requirements of the premises.

Disclaimer: This summary is a guide only and is not legal advice. For more information on employers’ obligations, call NECA Legal (WA) Pty Ltd on 6241 6129 or email necalegalwa@necawa.asn.au.