Fact Sheet 16: Employers must Consult with Employees

The Occupational Health And Safety Act clearly states that an employer must consult their workers and when and how they must go about, for example what an employer must do.

Consultation must occur – the laws says employees must be able to have a say in any decisions about their health and safety (Section 13).


What this means for you

This means the sharing of relevant information, e.g. if the employer is to supply equipment for a person to use, e.g. a forklift, then the employer must provide the employee with information about the risks involved and control measures.

This gives employees the opportunity to express their views. These views must be taken into account, for example when an employer is introducing a new way of doing things, the employer must talk with the employees and take on board any issues, concerns and/or suggestions raised in relation to health and safety (section 14).


When does an employer have to consult?

Assessing risks in the workplace- all employers must assess workplace risks and while they are still in the assessment stage they have to consult the employees.

Decisions about controlling or eliminating risks – before an employer decides to put control measures in place they have to discuss this with the employees.

Changes to premises – for example if an employer wants to introduces a new security system, they have to discuss it with the employees first and take on board any suggestions, concerns etc.

Changes to systems or methods of work – for example if the employer changes rosters or shifts they must consult the effected employees and take on board any concerns for example fatigue (section 15).


How does an employer consult

The law allows for three options:

1. OHS committees Refer to fact sheet on Committees

2. OHS Representatives refer to fact sheet on Representatives

Other agreed arrangements – This is where a union can negotiate with the employer on a particular arrangement, which suits the workplace, for example there may be a number of worksites i.e. the same chain of fast food stores. The employer and union may agree to have OHS reps from each of the store, who meet on a regular basis (Section 16).

The mechanics of consultation – The Law allows for the employees to have a committee if there are more than 20 employees and the majority want a committee. WorkCover can also direct that a committee be set up. If one employee asks for a workplace rep then the employer must allow for an election and the union can conduct this election (section 17).

Please note that a workplace can have a combination of workplace committees and representatives.

Download more info:
Click here to download Fact Sheet 16: Employers must Consult with Employees

Sign up for updates