Working with you to resolve workplace issues

We work with you to resolve workplace issues by offering dispute resolution services, information about workplace laws and tools to help you follow the laws.

We're here to help both employees and employers and we don't advocate for either party. We want to make sure everyone is following workplace laws, can resolve any issues quickly and get on with the job as soon as possible.

Preparing for mediation

We contact the employer and the employee to discuss the workplace issues that have been raised. We will help you to sort out exactly what issues are in dispute.

We will help you to:

  • learn about the laws relating to the issues in dispute
  • use our tools to calculate what the entitlement should be
  • try to fix any problems before mediation.

If all the issues can be voluntarily resolved at this stage, there is no need to go through our mediation process.

Mediation

What is mediation?

Our mediation service is a fast, confidential and free way to help employees and employers find solutions to disputes about workplace issues.

An experienced mediator will work with both parties to come to an agreement to resolve the dispute during a scheduled telephone conference call of up to 2 hours.

Our mediations:

  • are quick and efficient
    • 1-2 hours over the telephone instead of a day in court
    • high success rate in resolving disputes
  • are conducted in a controlled environment
    • everyone gets to have their say and be heard
    • discussion is led by a trained, neutral mediator
  • allow parties to create their own solutions to disputes, instead of having a decision made by someone else.

Mediation is a voluntary process. If either party doesn't agree to attend mediation, you will be advised of alternative options. Often this will be a referral to take legal action in the small claims court.

What happens during mediation?

Step 1: preparation

The key to a successful mediation is good preparation.

Before mediation:

  • know the issues you want to resolve 
  • check what the entitlements are under Australian workplace law 
  • think about solutions which everyone can agree to 
  • get your paperwork together – the award, pay slips, time sheets, letters, emails and other relevant correspondence 
  • seek advice if you need it, from us or: 
    • a union 
    • an employer organisation 
    • an accountant 
    • a lawyer.

Step 2: the day of the mediation

The mediator will call and connect both parties in a telephone conference call so that everyone can be heard. The mediator will explain the guidelines for mediation and what will happen.

It's important to remember:

  • the mediator will not decide the outcome. Their role is to help the parties talk about the issues and agree to a resolution
  • keep an open mind about what the outcome could be. Agreements reached during mediation often include payment of money but can also involve:
    • crediting or debiting hours of leave
    • giving a work reference
    • making an apology
    • returning property
    • anything else the parties agree to in order to resolve the dispute.
  • mediation is confidential.

It's possible no agreement will be made at mediation. If this happens we'll let you know what your options are. Often this will be a referral to take legal action in the small claims court.

Step 3: after mediation

An agreement reached during mediation can be informal or formal.

An informal agreement can take any form, including a simple verbal agreement to take certain steps to resolve the issues.

If the parties choose to make a formal agreement the mediator may assist by drafting a Terms of Settlement document outlining what has been agreed to, what actions must be taken and when. The parties will agree to this verbally during the mediation.

After the mediation the Terms of Settlement document will be sent to both parties to sign. Once signed, it becomes a legally binding contract. If either party doesn't do what they agreed to do, the other party can take legal action to ask a court to enforce the Terms of Settlement.

If the issues are not resolved during mediation another resolution option is Taking legal action in the small claims court.

Requesting a review 

We welcome your feedback about your experience with us. You can request a review if you: 

  • are not satisfied with the process
  • do not agree with the outcome
  • think the Fair Work Inspector was unprofessional.

To request a review, email us at yourfeedback@fwo.gov.au, or write to:

Review Team
Fair Work Ombudsman
PO Box 1356
BENDIGO VIC 3552

Our review process

Once we receive your request for review we will:
  • contact you to:
    • confirm we have received your request
    • discuss your concerns
  • conduct a review that, depending on the issues, may involve one or more of the following: 
    • taking no further action as we support our processes and the outcome 
    • identifying areas where we can improve our processes or the performance of our staff
    • independently re-assessing your workplace issue
    • recommending further action is taken.
  • advise you of the outcome of the review.

Appealing the review – Commonwealth Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman can investigate complaints about Australian Government departments and agencies, including us.

If you’re not satisfied with our review, you can contact the Commonwealth Ombudsman external-icon.png .

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