In June 2013, Federal Parliament passed the Fair Work Amendment Act 2013 (Cth) (Amendment Act). From January 2014, permit holders (i.e. visiting union officials) may:
- Hold discussions and interviews in lunch rooms
- Enter residential areas (i.e. construction camps)
- Access charter plane/bus services arranged for workers by an employer
Employers may still request that permit holders use a designated meeting area, however from January 2014 permit holders may refuse an employer’s request and hold meetings in lunch rooms as the new ‘default’ meeting area. Permit holders must continue to comply with any reasonable request by an employer to take a particular route to the meeting area. Permit holders may too hold discussions and interviews in other ‘default’ areas, provided that the area is one ordinarily used for the taking of meal breaks.
Permit holders will soon be able to enter residential areas (i.e. construction camps) under new ‘accommodation arrangements’. Employers must enter into accommodation arrangements with permit holders where accommodation is not reasonably available (i.e. remote locations). Prior to this change in legislation, permit holders were prohibited from entering areas mainly for residential purposes.
Permit holders will also soon be able to use charter plane/bus services provided for workers by employers under new ‘transport arrangements’. Under the new legislation, employers must enter into transport arrangements with permit holders where transport is not reasonably available (i.e. remote locations). Prior to this change, permit holders were responsible for making their own transport arrangements to/from remote work locations.
Employers may invoice permit holders for costs incurred when making accommodation or transport arrangements.