This information is only relevant to employers and employees in the WA state industrial relations system – sole traders, unincorporated partnerships, unincorporated trusts and some incorporated or not for profit organisations. Find out more on the Guide to who is in the WA state system page.
If you operate or are employed by a Pty Ltd business – you can find information on this topic on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
For information on what records employers must keep - visit the record keeping requirements page.
If an employer receives a written request from an employee or a former employee, the employer must allow them to inspect their own employment records during their employment or after their employment has ceased. The employee can also give written authorisation to another person to inspect the records on their behalf.
Access to records by the employee or their representative includes being able to enter the employer’s premises for the purpose of inspecting time and wages records, and taking copies or extracts of those records.
Employers must provide access no later than the end of the pay period after the written request is received, or seven days after the request.
A union representative who holds an authority issued by the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission can inspect employment records relating to an employee who is a member of the union, or who is eligible to become a member of the union.
An authorised union representative may inspect employment records for the purpose of investigating a suspected breach of:
- the Industrial Relations Act
- the Long Service Leave Act
- the Minimum Conditions of Employment Act
- the Work Health and Safety Act
- the Construction Industry Portable Paid Long Service Leave Act
- an award, order or agreement that applies to an employee.
The right to access records includes being able to enter the employer’s premises (other than any part of the premises used for habitation by the employer and their household, except in the circumstances outlined below) during working hours for the purpose of inspecting employment records, and taking copies or extracts of those records.
If the occupier of the premises requests the union representative to show their authority, the union representative must do so in order to enter or remain on the premises.
An authorised union representative is not generally entitled to require an employer to produce employment records or other documents unless they have given the employer 24 hours’ written notice if the documents are kept on the employer’s premises, or 48 hours’ written notice if the documents are kept elsewhere. Notice requirements may be waived by the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission in certain circumstances.
Union access to any part of premises used for habitation
There is no automatic right of entry for authorised union representatives to any part of premises principally used for habitation by the employer or a member of their household (“habitation premises”). However, an authorised representative may apply to the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission for an order permitting them to enter habitation premises to investigate a suspected breach of a relevant law, award or agreement.
The Commission will only be able to make an order if satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist warranting the making of the order. Whether such circumstances exist will be determined on a case-by-case basis. The Commission will firstly try to resolve the matter by conciliation. If this is not successful, then the Commission will hear and determine the matter after hearing from both parties.
The Industrial Inspectors at the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety are State Government officers with legal authority to require access to employment records for individual employees or groups of employees. This includes being able to enter any premises where records are kept for the purpose of inspecting those records, seizing the records or taking copies or extracts from the records.
Industrial Inspectors use the employment records to check that employers are paying the correct wages and other employment entitlements.
Records can be inspected during a workplace visit, including where a complaint has been made by an employee or former employee.
If an industrial inspector proposes to enter a location or premises principally used for habitation, the inspector must give the owner or occupier of the premises at least 24 hours’ written notice of the proposed entry unless:
- the owner or occupier is carrying on an industry at the location or premises; or
- the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission has made an order waiving the requirement to give the notice.