What duties does a Senator or Member have under the WHS Act?
Each Senator or Member must discharge the following duties under the WHS Act:
- the Commonwealth’s duties as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)
- the Senator or Member’s own duties as an Officer
- the Senator or Member’s own duties as a Worker.
Information is available for each of the duty holders:
What is the scope of a Senator or Member’s duties?
Each Senator or Member’s representative work, comprising their parliamentary, electorate and official business, is a separate undertaking of the Commonwealth, and the Senator or Member has WHS duties within that undertaking. The undertaking of a Senator or Member’s work is separate from the undertaking of each other Senator or Member’s work.
The scope of a Senator or Member’s duties within an undertaking, and the WHS duties owed in a given situation, are determined by the extent of the Senator or Member’s capacity to influence or control that situation.
How does a Senator or Member’s duties interact with Finance’s duties?
Finance and each Senator and Member individually have responsibilities for discharging the Commonwealth’s PCBU duties within the Commonwealth undertaking associated with the Senator or Member’s representative work. The Commonwealth PCBU duties that a Senator or Member is responsible for may sometimes overlap with, and may sometimes be different from, the Commonwealth PCBU duties that Finance is responsible for with respect to the Senator or Member’s representative work.
For example, while a Senator or Member’s undertaking may include the responsibility to report unsafe building faults within their Commonwealth-funded office to Finance, it does not extend to management or control of building repairs. Similarly, Finance's undertaking does not extend to responsibility for, or oversight of, the day-to-day activities undertaken by MOP(S) Act employees for Senators and Members.
- Each Senator and Member also has significant personal duties as an officer and a worker under the WHS Act, and in these capacities, could be fined or found criminally liable if their acts or omissions cause harm to a worker or other person in their workplace. A workplace is a place where work is carried out for the Senator and Member and includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work.
- Comcare, the work health and safety regulator in the Commonwealth jurisdiction, provides general guidance about duties under the WHS Act.
- Access Comcare