Who initiates the election process?
An employer or employee can start the process to elect safety and health representatives. In this context, contractors and their employees are also regarded as employees of the principal who engages the contractor.
When requested by an employee, the employer has up to 21 days to invite employees to appoint delegates to participate in consultation about the election.
The election should be held within a reasonable time of the initial decision.
What has to be agreed before the election?
Before the election is held, the employer and worker delegates must discuss and agree on the matters relevant to the election of safety and health representatives. It is useful for all parties to have this agreement in writing.
Matters to be discussed and decided should include:
- number of safety and health representatives to be elected
- who they will represent (i.e. over which areas, matters or kinds of work will they exercise their functions?)
- how and when the election process will be carried out — it must be by secret ballot
- who will run the election
- how vacancies will be dealt with
- if required, matters to do with an election scheme
What is an election scheme and what does it involve?
If the parties in the workplace require more flexibility to elect safety and health representatives, then an alternative scheme may be adopted.
The employer and worker delegates need to consider the following if they wish to have a scheme:
- identify and define the workplaces or groups that the safety and health representatives will represent
- decide whether a contractor or contractor’s employees may be safety and health representatives
- identify workplaces at which there are workers who will be affected by the proposed scheme
- decide whether the scheme is to apply to future elections
- decide how matters relating to the election scheme can be changed after it is set up.
If not already done, the employer must invite workers to appoint a delegate to consult on the election of a safety and health representative. A scheme cannot apply to workplaces where this has not been done.
Agreements made under an election scheme must be in writing.
Who is eligible to nominate for election?
Any employee who works at a mine is eligible for election as a safety and health representative.
Depending on the election scheme, there may also be provision for a contractor or someone employed by a contractor to be treated as an employee of the principal employer, and therefore be eligible for election.
Safety and health representatives elected to represent fellow underground miners must have at least 12 months of underground mining operations experience.
How is an election conducted?
The election is conducted in the way agreed during the consultation and in accordance with the agreed election scheme, if there is one.
Employees at a mine or who are members of a distinct unit of the employer’s workforce may, by secret ballot, elect one of their members as a safety and health representative. Every relevant employee is entitled to vote. Relevant employees are those working in the workplace to be represented by the elected safety and health representatives. If only one eligible candidate is nominated, a ballot is not needed and the candidate is elected unopposed. The person elected holds office for two years.
The person conducting the election must notify the result to the employer, the State Mining Engineer and the person elected within 7 days, stating the day on which the election was held.
Who can conduct an election?
The legislation does not mention that a specific or particular individual needs to conduct the election, but suggests that an election could be run by the electoral commissioner, an employer organisation or a union. Other options are a worker from a different group in the workplace, or someone from outside the workplace.
The only requirement is that the employee and worker delegates agree on who will conduct the election.
May the person conducting the election be a nominee?
To maintain the integrity and transparency of the election process, it is recommended that people wishing to nominate as a safety and health representative do not conduct the election.
A person should not be chosen to conduct the election without prior agreement as he or she may wish to nominate.
What if there is only one nominee?
If there is only one eligible nomination or the number of eligible nominations matches the number of positions, then there is no requirement for an election to be held. In this situation, the candidate is considered to be elected unopposed.
The notification process must still be followed and a completed election notification form sent to Resources Safety.
Below is the list of documents and links that you may find useful.