WHS duties

Last updated
02 February 2021

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011 parliamentarians, MOP(S) Act employees and Finance share the responsibility for eliminating or minimising the risks connected with workplace bullying and harassment. All workers, including parliamentarians and MOP(S) Act employees, have a duty to take reasonable care that their behaviour does not affect their own health and safety, or that of other persons.

Parliamentarians WHS duties

Each parliamentarian must discharge the following duties under the WHS Act:

How does a parliamentarian's duties interact with Finance’s duties?

Finance and each parliamentarian individually have responsibilities for discharging WHS duties as the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). The Commonwealth PCBU duties that a parliamentarian 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 parliamentarian's representative work.

Each parliamentarian's representative work and office, comprising their parliamentary, electorate and official business, is a separate undertaking of the Commonwealth, and the parliamentarian has WHS duties within that undertaking. The undertaking of a parliamentarian's work is separate from the undertaking of each other parliamentarian’s work.

The scope of a parliamentarian's duties within an undertaking, and the WHS duties owed in a given situation, are determined by the extent of the Parliamentarian’s capacity to influence or control that situation.

For example, while a parliamentarian'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 parliamentarians. Each parliamentarian 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 parliamentarians and includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work.

MOP(S) Act employees WHS duties

Every MOP(S) Act employee has the duties of a worker under the WHS Act.

In certain circumstances, where a MOP(S) Act employee is authorised by a parliamentarian to make decisions that affect the whole, or a substantial part of the parliamentarian’s representative work, the MOP(S) Act employee may also have the duties of an officer.

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