Get our help with your workplace issue
Find out about when and how we can help with workplace issues. We’re impartial, which means we don’t represent employees or employers.
On this page:
- Our role in workplace problems
- Before we get involved
- The process when you ask for our help
- Ways to ask for our help
- Tools and resources
- Related information
Our role in workplace problems
As the Fair Work Ombudsman, we:
- monitor compliance with the Fair Work Act
- investigate and inquire about alleged breaches of the Act
- take enforcement action when appropriate.
We’re impartial, which means we don’t represent employees or employers.
We don’t handle all kinds of workplace problems. We can help with workplace issues related to the Fair Work Act including about awards and agreements. These are usually related to pay and other conditions of employment such as leave, notice and hours of work.
Help with other kinds of workplace problems, such as health and safety and unfair dismissal, is the role of other organisations.
We can help with:
- underpayment of minimum entitlements under the Fair Work Act, a modern award or an enterprise agreement. This includes issues about:
- pay rates
- notice of termination
- general employment conditions under these instruments
- breaches of the National Employment Standards (NES)
We can’t help with:
- tax or superannuation disputes
- bullying and harassment claims
- workplace health and safety laws and disputes
- unfair dismissal claims
- issuing employment separation certificates
- issues that happened more than 6 years ago.
The decisions we make about any enforcement action we’ll take are guided by our Compliance and Enforcement Policy .
Before we get involved
Many workplace problems can be resolved quickly and easily without our help, even if an employee has left their employment.
We encourage employers and employees to work together to try and sort out problems before we get involved. To find out how, see Raising your problem in the workplace.
The process when you ask for our help
Once you’ve asked for our help, we follow the steps below to decide what action, if any, we will take.
We are guided by the following factors when making our decision:
- the kinds of issues raised
- whether the issues relate to our strategic priorities
- our Compliance and Enforcement Policy .
Step 1 – We’ll take a statement about the issues
One of our officers will call you to discuss your situation in more detail. The officer will take a statement about the issues raised and will ask you about the evidence you have to support your statement.
We’ll provide you with a copy of the recorded statement and we’ll ask you to confirm that the information is a true and accurate account of your conversation with the officer.
In most cases, we’ll also contact the other side and offer them an opportunity to record their own statement.
Step 2 – We’ll inform you about possible next steps
We will let you know the most likely next steps based on the information the officer has gathered. This will include:
- an overview of the facts raised
- the issues raised and our preliminary assessment of those issues including a summary of possible next steps
- how the parties can take alternative action if they choose to.
Step 3 – We’ll make a decision about our involvement in your matter
We use the information gathered and our Compliance and enforcement policy to decide if we will investigate your matter further.
Find out more about what type of action we may take and why at Compliance and enforcement.
Step 4 – We’ll communicate our decision
We inform you and the other party of our decision. As part of this, we’ll outline:
- all the relevant facts available at the time of making our decision
- the issues raised in the matter and how we made our assessment in accordance with our Compliance and enforcement policy
- our decision.
If we decide to take action, a Fair Work Inspector will contact you to discuss next steps.
If we can’t take further action, or decide not to, we’ll discuss what other options are available for you.
For information about what you can expect from us and how you can help the process, see Understanding the process.
Example: Process for assessing whether FWO can help with a workplace problem
Khaled worked 2 shifts as a casual waiter for a café but wasn’t paid for them. When he contacted his employer to check when he would be paid, the employer told him he had to return an apron first.
Khaled told the employer he didn’t have the apron and that he wanted to be paid for the shifts he worked.
Khaled read the advice on our website about addressing problems in the workplace and followed the steps. Khaled’s employer still wouldn’t pay him for his shifts, so Khaled called us to ask for our help.
An adviser spoke to Khaled and after asking some preliminary questions advised they would refer the issues raised for further assessment. They advised Khaled that he would be contacted by a FWO officer who would request more information.
A FWO officer then contacted Khaled and worked with him on a statement so he could confirm that the information he provided to us was true and correct. The FWO officer also asked Khaled to send us his contract of employment and timesheet to show he had worked the 2 shifts, which Khaled did.
The FWO officer then contacted Khaled’s employer to take their statement in response to Khaled’s allegations. The employer admitted he hadn’t paid Khaled but that he would pay Khaled for the 2 shifts he worked. Khaled’s employer paid him $700 in outstanding wages.
The FWO officer confirmed the payment had been made with Khaled and the matter was closed.
Best practice tip
If we ask you for extra information, we need your response in the timeframe we ask for. We can then review your matter as soon as possible. That will increase the chance of success.
Ways to ask for our help
The easiest way to request our assistance is to Contact us. If you submit an online enquiry, we may still call you to clarify the information you have provided.
When you contact us, a trained adviser will ask you some preliminary questions to ensure the workplace problem is something we can look into and to understand what steps you have already taken to address any problems yourself.
Tools and resources
- Compliance and Enforcement Policy
- Online learning centre
- Fact sheets – About the Fair Work Ombudsman