Can the employer decide how long a rep holds his or her position?
No, Section 55 of the 2004 OHS Act now provides a term of no more than three years for elected health and safety representatives, although a different, shorter term may be agreed by the DWG or determined by an inspector. Generally though, three years should be considered the 'norm'. For reps in place when the Act came into effect on July 1, 2005, the three years commenced on that date.
The employer has no role in deciding the length of a rep's term of office.
If the DWG is not happy with their elected rep - if they feel that the rep is not very active - then a new election can be called. In order to do this, however, a majority of the DWG's members must resolve, in writing, that the person should no longer represent the DWG - but this can only be done if the person has held the position for at least 12 months. Before taking this step, it's recommended that the members of the DWG raise the issue with the elected rep to discuss their concerns. It may be that the rep wants to keep the position and is prepared to be more active.
This is an action that cannot be initiated by the employer
And remember, if for any reason an election must be held, it is up to the members of the DWG to determine how the election should be conducted. If they cannot agree any member of the DWG may ask the Authority to arrange for an inspector to either conduct the election or appoint another person to do so.
In general, the employer should have no role in conducting an election for health and safety representatives.
Contact your union's OHS officer or Renata for more information and advice.
Last amended June 2013