Industrial action

Before taking part in industrial action, make sure that the industrial action is protected. You may legal action and fines if it's not. See the Industrial action section for more information.

Your employer must not threaten to dismiss or discriminate against you for taking part in protected industrial action.

If this happens, you can make a complaint to us.

Find out more:

You don't have to be involved in industrial action, even if your workmates voted for it.

It's unlawful for someone to take adverse action against you because you don't take part in industrial action.

It's illegal to try to make someone take part in industrial action. If someone is doing this to you, please call us to find out more about your entitlements and what you can do.

Yes, you can. If a protected action ballot is successful, everyone who was eligible to vote can take protected industrial action. This applies even to employees who voted ‘no’.

You will need to provide evidence that you were on personal leave and did not take part in the unlawful action. This may be a medical certificate or another form of evidence.

If employees take industrial action then their employer can respond by taking action too. However, employers may first want to seek professional advice to discuss their options, obligations and how best to handle the situation.

If you want to take, suspend or stop industrial action you should contact the Fair Work Commission External link icon.

For general information on what the Fair Work Act 2009 says about industrial action and your entitlements visit our Industrial action section, or contact the Fair Work Infoline.

Usually if the industrial action was protected the Fair Work Commission will not fine you or take other action. But other people or organisations affected by the industrial action may take legal action against you.

If the industrial action was unprotected, you could be fined or penalised. The Fair Work Ombudsman can take legal action against the organisers or people who have taken part in the industrial action. Other people who have been affected by the action could also take legal action against you (for example for loss of earnings or damages that resulted from the action).

When we investigate, we may:

  • interview employees who were involved in the action
  • require employers, employees or industrial organisations to give us documents
  • use information and documents as evidence in court.

After we have investigated the industrial action we may:

  • decide there isn’t enough evidence to take further action
  • decide it may not be in the public interest to take legal action and
  • send a ‘letter of caution’
  • make a written agreement with the wrongdoer requiring them to do certain things to resolve the problem and to prevent it from happening again. This is called an enforceable undertaking
  • apply to a court for an injunction or other order against those taking the unlawful industrial action
  • start legal action to have penalties imposed on those taking the unlawful industrial action.


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Page last updated: 23 Sep 2013