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Industrial action

Last updated December 2023

This chapter explains what industrial action is, when it is protected under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), and how to manage it.

What is industrial action?

Definition: Industrial Action

Industrial action – for the purposes of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) – is action that has an industrial character and occurs within the area of industrial disputes and bargaining.
Important: The information in this chapter only concerns national system employers and the industrial action provisions in the FW Act.

Industrial action means:

  • an employee performing work in a manner different from how it is customarily performed;
  • an employee adopting a practice that results in a restriction, limitation on, or a delay in the performance of work;
  • a ban, limitation or restriction on the performance of work by an employee, or on the acceptance of or offering for work by an employee;
  • a failure of, or refusal by, employees to attend the workplace, or an employee’s failure or refusal to perform work, i.e. a strike; or
  • the lockout of employees from their place of employment by the employer.
Definition: Performance of Work

Performance of work refers to:
- how the tasks associated with a particular job are performed;
- when work is performed;
- where work is performed; and
- the conditions under which work is performed.

If employees are only prepared to perform work if they wear campaign clothing, this amounts to a limitation or restriction on the performance of work or the acceptance or offering of work, and is therefore industrial action.