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WR 2010/1: Responsibilities and obligations of workplace delegates


The purpose of this Advice is to remind Australian Public Service (APS) agencies and non-APS Commonwealth Authorities subject to the Australian Government Employment Bargaining Framework (Bargaining Framework) of the requirement under Australian Government policy to implement a protocol in consultation with unions, which sets out the rights of workplace delegates. This has been a requirement since the introduction of revisions to the Bargaining Framework on 1 September 2009 and was highlighted in WR Advice 3 of 2009.

Principles for workplace delegates

2. As agencies would be aware, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) recently sought information from APS agencies on their progress in implementing a protocol for workplace delegates in their organisation.

3.Only a small number of APS agencies were able to advise that they had implemented arrangements for workplace delegates. As such agencies are reminded that it is a Government policy requirement that agencies develop and implement a protocol in consultation with unions that outlines responsibilities and obligations in relation to delegates’ rights within the workplace (see Clause 1.4.7 of the Bargaining Framework). The development of such arrangements may occur outside of the enterprise agreement bargaining process and should be implemented as soon as practicable.

4.Attachment A of the Supporting Guidance to the Bargaining Framework provides guidance on the principles that agencies might consider covering in such an arrangement. The attached principles are indicative but should be generally adhered to, subject to consultation with relevant unions and operational requirements.

5.It should be noted that the Bargaining Framework and the guidance at Attachment A do not preclude agencies from providing entitlements to workplace delegates which exceed those outlined, nor are they intended to diminish or detract from arrangements or rights that may already be in place.

6.DEEWR will continue to monitor progress in meeting these obligations in future collections of APS industrial instrument data and will additionally survey non-APS Commonwealth Authorities as to their progress in the near future.

Further information and advice

7. Should you require any further information or assistance on this matter, please contact your DEEWR Client Contact directly, email agebf [at] deewr.gov.au or telephone (02) 6240 8254 to be directed to the appropriate person.

Helen Bull
Branch Manager
Public Sector Branch

Attachment A - Principles for workplace delegates

The role of union workplace delegates is to be respected and facilitated.

Agencies and workplace delegates must deal with each other in good faith.

The rights of union workplace delegates and recognised representatives include but are not limited to:

  • the right to be treated fairly and to perform their role as workplace delegates without any discrimination in their employment;
  • recognition by the agency that endorsed workplace delegates speak on behalf of their members in the workplace;
  • the right to participate in collective bargaining on behalf of those who they represent, as per the Fair Work Act;
  • the right to reasonable paid time to provide information to and seek feedback from employees in the workplace;
  • reasonable paid time off to represent union members in the agency at relevant union forums;
  • reasonable access to agency facilities for the purpose of carrying out work as a delegate and consulting with workplace colleagues and the union, subject to agency policies and protocols;
  • reasonable paid time during normal working hours to consult with colleagues in the workplace;
  • reasonable access to appropriate training in workplace relations matters including training provided by a union;
  • the right to consultation, and access to relevant information about the workplace and the agency; and
  • the right to reasonable paid time to represent the interests of members to the employer and industrial tribunals.

Agencies will seek to facilitate official union communication with employees by means that may include:

  • the use of email as a means of communicating with employees and other means of information sharing, including written materials, electronic billboards and access to websites; and
  • group or individual meetings between employees and their representatives.

In exercising their rights, workplace delegates and unions will consider operational issues, departmental policies and guidelines and the likely affect on the efficient operation of the agency and the provision of services by the Commonwealth.

Last reviewed: 
19 July 2018