Step 3: Sort out the issue in the workplace

You've checked the law and think a mistake might have been made. Now it's time to find out the best way to deal with it. 

Check your workplace's dispute resolution procedure

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.

Check for your dispute resolution process:

Some businesses also have formal or set processes for dealing with disputes or issues in the workplace. If your workplace does you should follow this process as well. Find out more about setting up dispute resolution processes in the workplace with our Effective dispute resolution best practice guide.

Prepare yourself for the conversation

We have a range of tools and resources designed to help you resolve workplace issues that you can access on our website at any time, including:

Talk about it

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 external-icon.png.

Put the agreed actions in writing

It's a good idea to put things in writing after, or as part of, the steps above. It's a good way to set out the issues or outline any courses of action that are agreed to. If you put something in writing that needs an answer, make sure you give enough time to respond.

Does the employee need to be backpaid? Find out How to fix an underpayment.

Small business dispute resolution 

To make it easier for small businesses to resolve workplace and other business issues, the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman 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 and Family Enterprise Ombudsman's website external-icon.png to find out more.

Do you need to ask us for help?

Most employees and employers are able to resolve their workplace issues using the resources we've provided above. Sometimes you might need to ask for our help. Go to the next step to find out:

  • when we will help, and how
  • how to ask for our help.

Go to Step 4: Ask for our help.

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