Can I make a complaint?

Before you make a complaint to us, it’s usually a good idea to talk to your employer (or former employer) first. Mistakes happen and employers usually want to fix them quickly.

If you’re not sure how to talk to your employer, try our online learning course. The ‘difficult conversations in the workplace’ course will teach you how to talk to your manager or employer if you think you’re being underpaid or not getting your entitlements.

Most awards and enterprise agreements have a dispute resolution procedure for resolving issues at work. You should follow this process before you make a complaint.

We may be able to help you if you think you’re:

  • not being paid the right amount
  • not getting the right amount of leave or other conditions you’re entitled to
  • being forced to do things against your will
  • being threatened by your employer
  • being discriminated against
  • in a Sham contract.

We may also be able to help if you’ve got an unfair dismissal order from the Fair Work Commission, and your employer isn’t following it. See our fact sheet for more information.

What we can’t help you with

There are some workplace problems we can’t help you with.

Who can make a complaint?

You can make a complaint to us if you're covered by Commonwealth workplace laws.

This includes employees who are one of the following:

  • employed by a constitutional corporation (usually Pty Ltd or Ltd companies) in any State or Territory
  • anyone employed in the ACT, NT, or VIC
  • employed by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority
  • waterside employees, maritime employees or flight crew officers employed in connection with interstate or overseas trade or commerce, or
  • employed by sole traders, partnerships, other unincorporated entities and non-trading corporations in NSW, QLD, TAS or SA (from 1 January 2010).

If you’re working for a sole trader or partnership in Western Australia, visit the Labour Relations Division of the WA Department of Commerce External link icon.

When can I make a complaint?

Before making a complaint with us you should try to talk to your employer about your concerns. Most workplace issues are quickly resolved this way.

You can make a complaint to us if you’re still working. Your employer can’t end or threaten your employment because you’ve made a complaint. See Threats from an employer to find out what you can do if this happens to you.

If you prefer, you can wait until your employment has ended to make a complaint. When this happens, you should make a complaint as soon as possible.

Time limits

We can help you resolve complaints that happened up to 6 years ago.

We can look into a complaint that happened more than 6 years ago, but we can't take the person or business to court or enforce the outcome.

We can only look into workplace discrimination complaints that happened after 1 July 2009. If you were covered by the State system until 1 January 2010 (in NSW, QLD, SA or TAS) we can only look into complaints that happened after this date. You can contact the Anti-discrimination or equal opportunity organisation in your State for help with workplace discrimination matters that happened earlier.

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Page last updated: 13 Jun 2013