Industrial action includes strikes, work bans and lock-outs. Industrial action is usually taken by employers or employees to settle a workplace dispute about working conditions. For example, employers or employees may decide to take industrial action during the negotiation process of a new enterprise agreement. It’s always better to try to settle workplace disputes without using industrial action.
An employer or employee can’t just decide to take industrial action without there being consequences. There are different types of industrial action (protected, unprotected and unlawful) and processes that need to be followed to make sure the people taking the action are protected from legal action. Industrial action is only protected if it’s for a proposed enterprise agreement and the existing agreement or workplace determination is past its nominal expiry date.
What is industrial action?
Industrial action includes:
- when employees don’t come to work
- when employees fail, or refuse to perform any work at all
- when employees delay or put a ban or limit on the work they do
- when employers lock employees out of a workplace.
Industrial action doesn’t include any activities that are agreed to or authorised by an employer and employees.
Note: employees have the right to a safe workplace. Stopping work because of a reasonable concern about an imminent risk to health or safety is not industrial action.
Do you work in the building and construction industry?
The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 has its own rules for industrial action.
Make sure any industrial action you take in this industry is allowed by that Act as well. There are penalties if it isn’t. Visit Fair Work Building & Construction for information.