Help resolving workplace issues

Do you need help to resolve a workplace issue? Find out what we can help with, how we help and where to go if we can't help. Follow our step-by-step guide to resolving workplace issues:

Step 1: Find out what we can help with

What we can help with

We can help resolve workplace issues for those covered by the Fair Work system.

This includes issues arising from:

  • pay – eg. penalty rates, allowances and loadings
  • leave – eg. annual, sick, maternity and parental leave
  • ending employment – eg. notice, final pay and redundancy
  • discrimination and other workplace protections
  • sham contracting
  • union membership and right of entry
  • anything else covered by an award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement.

Who we can help

We offer information, resources and dispute resolution assistance, for employees and employers covered by the Fair Work system.

Employees of sole traders or partnerships in WA are not covered by the Fair Work system and should contact the state Department of Commerce external-icon.png for assistance with workplace relations issues.

When we can help

There are time limits on when we can help. We can help resolve:

  • general workplace issues that happened up to 6 years ago
  • workplace discrimination issues that happened after 1 July 2009.

Where else to find help

If we can't help, it's likely someone else can.

For help with issues relating to:

If you're an employee and you've lost your job, contact the Fair Work Commission first if you think you were sacked because of:

  • discrimination
  • a reason that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable
  • another protected right.

You have 21 days from the day you were sacked to lodge an application with the Commission. Check the information at the Commission website to find out if you can apply for:

Step 2: Check the law

Often disputes happen because employers and employees don't know what the minimum pay rates and conditions are. An effective way to resolve disputes is simply to find out what the law is and follow it.

Check the laws about:

Can't find what you're looking for? Contact us.

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Step 3: Try to resolve the issues yourself

Often issues arise because:

  • employers and employees don't know what the law is
  • communication has broken down.

Most awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements have a dispute resolution procedure for resolving issues at work. You should follow this process before you make a formal request to us for help:

If an employee has left an employer, you should still try to resolve the issues between yourselves before making a formal request to us for help.

How to resolve workplace issues by yourself

There are practical steps you can take to make difficult workplace conversations easier and more effective:

  • make time to talk to your employer or employee without interruptions
  • be prepared:
    • know the issues you want to discuss
    • bring any relevant paperwork, eg. pay slips or bank statements
    • suggest ways the issue could be resolved
  • listen, keep an open mind and consider all points of view
  • learn more strategies and tips about having difficult conversations at work by taking a short course at our Online learning centre.

To make it easier for small business to resolve workplace and other business issues, the Australian Small Business Commissioner provides information to help businesses better understand and manage their dispute, including:

  • an explanation of the five phases of dispute resolution
  • a checklist to better understand how the dispute started and what the issues really are
  • tips for putting concerns in writing, including an example letter.

Visit the Australian Small Business Commissioner's website to find out more.

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Step 4: Request assistance from us

If you're unable to resolve the issue yourself, ask us for help.

Where we assist, we may help you by:

  • giving information and advice to help both the employee and employer understand their workplace rights and responsibilities
  • offering a range of dispute resolution processes, including mediation, to help you come to an agreement to resolve the issues.

What you need to know about our assistance:

  • we are neutral, which means we don't represent employers or employees. Our aim is to help everyone resolve the issues and follow the law.
  • our processes are voluntary. We can't force employers and employees to take any specific action, including pay money. Only a court can make binding orders.

If you feel that our resolution process isn't right for you, you may consider taking your own legal action to resolve your workplace issue. Visit our Working with you to resolve workplace issues page for more information about our resolution processes and taking your own legal action.

Download and fill out the complaint form

To ask for our help, you'll need to download, complete and send us a workplace complaint form.

Christmas and New Year period

Between Christmas and New Year we have limited staff available to process complaints and some delays may be experienced. If we can't contact both parties because they're on holidays this can also lead to delays. So if you're thinking of lodging a complaint, please consider waiting until the New Year.

Before you send it to us:

  • read our Notification of the collection of personal information (DOCX 71.6KB) to find out why we need to collect your information, what it's used for and who we will disclose it to
  • read the information on the complaint form carefully
  • complete every section of the complaint form and sign it. Unsigned or incomplete forms may be returned to you
  • attach copies of any relevant paperwork (avoid sending originals if possible) to your complaint form including:
    • pay slips
    • PAYG summaries (payment summaries / group certificates)
    • time sheets
    • letters, emails or other written communication
    • tax file declaration forms
    • written contracts
    • relevant employer policies and forms
    • diary records.

If you don't have any paperwork you can still send your complaint form to us.

Download the Workplace complaint form (DOC 170.5KB).

Send the complaint form to us

Send the form, with copies of any relevant paperwork to:

Fair Work Ombudsman
Complaints Assessment Team
GPO Box 2567
Adelaide SA 5001

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Step 5: Learn about what happens next

We will contact you after we receive the complaint form. Read our Working with you to resolve workplace issues section so you know what to expect.

If you have any questions before we contact you, you can call us on 13 13 94.

If you wish to withdraw your complaint, you will need to let us know in writing. To withdraw your complaint email us at workplacecomplaints@fwo.gov.au, or write to:

Fair Work Ombudsman
Workplace Complaints Registration Team
GPO Box 2567
Adelaide SA 5001

Please note that the email address above is for withdrawing complaints only. For all other enquiries visit the Contact us page.

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Best practice tip

To avoid workplace issues occurring employers and employees should:

  • be aware of their rights and responsibilities under Australian workplace laws
  • talk about any concerns as soon as possible
  • keep good records about any decisions made.

Download our Effective dispute resolution best practice guide to help you resolve workplace issues.

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