Consultation guide for employees

All employees have the right to a workplace that is safe and free of risks to their health. Consulting about health and safety and getting involved in decision making can help keep you safe at work.


Your right to health and safety at work

As an employee, you have a right to work in a workplace that is safe and free of risks to your health. This is mentioned in the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), which is a law to help keep workplaces safe.

Your employer must protect you from any risks to your physical or mental health. They must do this so far as is reasonably practicable. This means doing what a reasonable person in the same position would do.

These rights are extended to:

  • independent contractors (and their employees)
  • labour hire workers

You must cooperate with your employer when they act to improve health and safety, including through consultation.

Your right to be consulted

A safe workplace is one where employees and employers can raise issues, talk about them and solve problems together.

Consultation is important because:

  • it improves decision-making, workplace relationships, health and safety, and business performance
  • it gives employees a chance to share their knowledge, ideas and first-hand experiences

As you're the one completing the work, your input is extremely important. Your employer must share information with you, listen to what you have to say, and consider your views before making a decision. They should also inform you of the outcomes.

When must you be consulted?

The OHS Act states that you or your health and safety representative (HSR) must be consulted whenever your employer is:

  • identifying and assessing hazards and risks
  • making decisions about:
    • measures to control risks
    • facilities for employee welfare
    • certain procedures
  • determining membership of health safety committees
  • proposing changes to the workplace, plant, substances or other things used at the workplace
  • proposing changes to the way work is done

Who must be consulted?

Your employer must consult with you if you are, or may be, affected by any of the matters listed in the OHS Act.

If you're represented by an HSR, your employer must involve them in the consultation, with or without your direct involvement.

How must you be consulted?

Your employer must:

  • give you information about the matter
  • give you a reasonable amount of time to review and understand that information
  • give you the opportunity to express your views
  • consider your views before making a final decision

Consultation should be done in a way that is accessible and can be understood by everyone.

So far as is reasonably practicable

Consultation must occur so far as is reasonably practicable. What is considered reasonably practicable might differ depending on the situation.

Things your employer should consider when consulting with employees include:

  • the size and structure of the workplace
  • the type of work
  • how urgent the situation is
  • work arrangements (for example, shift work or remote employees)
  • employee diversity, including:
    • cultural and linguistic diversity
    • generational diversity
    • gender diversity
    • LGBTQIA+ employees
    • employees with a disability

Agreed consultation procedures

Your employer should let you know how consultation will happen at your workplace.

If your workplace has a formal consultation procedure, it must be followed.

Formal procedures for consultation should:

  • be consistent with the OHS Act
  • be developed through consultation between employers, HSRs and employees
  • be in writing and made available to all employees
  • clearly address the role of HSRs and anyone else involved in consultation
  • be made available to all employees

WorkSafe Advisory Service

WorkSafe's advisory service is available between 7:30am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. If you need more support, you can also contact WorkSafe using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) or the National Relay Service.

1800 136 089 More contact options