WA industrial laws could give union officials right to enter private homes

The West Australian, 13 April 2019

Union officials and industrial inspectors would have the right to enter private homes under industrial laws being pursued by the McGowan Government.

People who work in domestic service such as cleaners, carers and gardeners are not considered employees under WA law but they will become employees of homeowners under proposed reforms revealed this week.

The changes, part of a review by former Industrial Relations Commission president Mark Ritter, would give domestic workers more rights, and give responsibility for issues like workplace safety to homeowners.

WA’s peak business lobby group said it was alarmed by the proposed amendments, which would result in homes being considered workplaces.

“It is completely inappropriate for unions to be able to make any right of entry into a private residence or for it to be possible for the WA Industrial Relations Commission to override an individual’s property rights,” Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive Chris Rodwell said.

Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston said Mr Rodwell did not seem to understand that workers’ compensation, taxation and occupational health and safety laws already applied to domestic workers.

“All we are doing is ensuring that all employees get covered by employment laws,” he said.

“Why is that such a bad thing? Are gardeners or cleaners less than those who work for the major companies?”

“On the other hand, all workers have a right to be treated fairly and protected from exploitation, which includes allowing inspection of time and wage records and other issues,” he said.Union officials will have to give three days notice, and industrial inspectors will have to give 24 hours notice, and get consent from homeowners before they can enter a private home, unless they have permission from the WAIRC.

Slater and Gordon employment lawyer Daniel Stojanoski said a private home was a domestic worker’s workplace and right-of-entry holders should be able to inspect them if there were safety concerns.

“They will still need to get consent,” he said.