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Self-resolution of workplace disputes

The FWO seeks to encourage Australian businesses to manage disputes over workplace entitlements with their employees directly, without the need for the involvement of the FWO or the courts.

The FWO acknowledges that at times unintentional mistakes may occur or employees may believe that a mistake has occurred.

A primary aim of the compliance partnership has been to empower and enable Hays and its employees to resolve workplace disputes directly.

To facilitate this, the FWO undertook to forward any Requests for Assistance involving a routine-low nature to Hays within seven days.  Upon referral, Hays was then required to attempt to resolve each request within 28 days of receipt from the FWO and to provide evidence to the FWO within seven days of the matter being resolved.

The FWO reserved the right to investigate any matter it felt it was in the public interest to do so.

During the life of the compliance partnership, a total of eight requests for assistance were lodged with the FWO. Below is a graph showing the number of requests received in the years prior to and during the deed period.

Requests for Assistance - Hays Specialist Recruitment

The FWO did not consider any of the requests received from current or former Hays employees as matters that indicated serious non-compliance or warranted an investigation by the FWO and all were resolved without the FWO’s intervention. 

The majority of issues raised by employees dealt with issues related to their host employer rather than Hays itself. Of those that related to Hays directly, the issues resulted from administrative errors or changes to work arrangements that had not been updated.

Hays promptly investigated all requests for assistance referred by the FWO and provided a timely response to the FWO on the outcome of each review. The number of requests received by the FWO was low considering the number of employees Hays has and the number of employment transactions that take place annually. It would indicate that robust systems and processes are in place that so few employee requests are made to the FWO.

Eight requests for assistance were referred to Hays during the life of the Deed. Seven of these were able to be resolved between the parties, without FWO involvement. Of the seven requests that were self-resolved, issues included:

  • non-payment of wages for two days’ work due to a clerical error
  • unlawful deductions
  • issues regarding termination of employment
  • non-payment of allowances, such as accommodation, due to a clerical error.

One request for assistance that was not self-resolved involved relocation payments in an employment contract. Following assessment of the matter, the FWO decided not to take further action.

The average time taken to resolve requests for assistance was 25.5 days, and the total amount of underpayments was $505.91.

Case study – Wage query by current employee 

The FWO received a request for assistance from a current employee of Hays. The employee alleged that they were not receiving the correct rate of pay for the work they were undertaking as their role had evolved over time to include more duties which the employee believed entitled them to a higher rate of pay. They had addressed this with the host employer but did not receive a satisfactory response.

The employee lodged a request for assistance with the FWO which was referred to Hays for their attention. Hays liaised with the host employer and informed them that the persons’ current duties were indicative of a higher classification than that originally stipulated. 

The host employer was informed of the relevant modern award that covered the employee’s employment and of the duties of the classifications under that award. The employee’s wage rate was adjusted to the correct rate and they were back paid for the period they performed the higher duties. The matter was resolved in 21 days.