Raising your problem in the workplace
Problems can usually be fixed quickly when employees and employers communicate and work together to find a solution.
On this page:
Problems can happen when employers and employees don’t follow the correct workplace laws and rules.
Employers and employees can accidentally break workplace laws when they don't know or understand their workplace rights and obligations.
These types of problems can often be resolved quickly when employees and employers communicate and work together to find a solution.
If you’re having a problem at work, we recommend that you raise it with your employee or employer first. When employees and employers communicate and work together to come up with their own solutions, the problem can usually be resolved without our help.
Even where an employee has left their employment, we encourage employers and employees to raise issues directly before asking for our help.
You can use our tools and resources to help you get things back on track.
There are some workplace problems that we know happen regularly. We have step-by-step guides for addressing these Common workplace problems section. If your problem isn’t one of these, use our checklist below to resolve your workplace issue in the workplace.
Step 1: Check the rules
Problems often happen because employers and employees don't know their workplace rights and obligations. An easy way to fix workplace problems is to find out what the law is and follow it. Read more at Preventing workplace problems.
Example: Phone enquiry
Damian is a casual store person in a warehouse and regularly works on weekends. He’s been employed for 6 months and has never been paid weekend penalty rates, which he’s heard he’s entitled to.
Damian contacts us to check his entitlements and get advice about what to do next.
He spoke to an adviser who asked him about his workplace, his job and his situation. Our adviser referred Damian to the Storage Services and Wholesale Award and explained the relevant weekend penalties in the award to him. Our adviser also walked Damian through how to obtain this information using our Pay Calculator.
The adviser suggested that Damian approach his employer to discuss the underpayment and provided Damian with resources to help him prepare for the conversation, including links to:
Step 2: Communicate
If you've checked the law and still think there is a problem, the next step is to have a conversation with your employer or employee.
Prepare yourself for the conversation
Raising issues with people can be difficult. We have a range of tools and resources to help you prepare for a conversation:
- visit our Online learning centre. Our video-based interactive courses help employers and employees with skills and strategies at work. These include courses on how to have difficult conversations for employees and employers.
- use our Pay and Conditions Tool to calculate pay rates and leave entitlements.
- check our fact sheets and templates. These help businesses and their employees.
- call us or contact us using My account, where one of our helpful advisers can answer your questions about pay rates, conditions and entitlements.
Talk about it
Practical steps you can take to make difficult workplace conversations easier and more effective include:
- Make time to talk to your employer or employee without interruptions.
- Be prepared:
- know the issues you want to discuss
- bring along any relevant paperwork, for example pay slips or bank statements
- have some some suggestions for how the issue could be fixed.
- Listen, keep an open mind and consider all points of view.
- Let your employer or employee know that you’ve checked the relevant entitlements or obligations with us, using our website or over the phone.
- Check our website for information together so you can read and talk about the same information.
Put it in writing
When you’ve agreed on next steps or outcomes, it helps to put it in writing so everyone is clear on what you agreed on and what will happen next. For example, you could send a follow up email to your employer or employee with a summary of what you talked about and agreed to.
If you haven’t been able to agree on next steps, it can help to put your concerns in writing. This is a good way to clearly identify the issues that haven’t been resolved and what type of response you want.
If you put something in writing that needs an answer, make sure you give the other person enough time to respond. Remember to be polite and courteous. Most problems at work happen because of a misunderstanding.
Step 3: Take further action
If you haven’t been able to fix the issue by raising it with your employee or employer, you may want to take further action. The action you choose to take will depend on the issue you’re trying to fix and the type of help you want.
One option is to ask for our help with your workplace issue. We’re impartial, which means we don’t represent employees or employers. Our Compliance and Enforcement Policy guides the decisions we make about what action, if any, we will take in relation to your workplace problem.
Find out how to Get our help with your workplace issue.
You can also:
- ask for help from an employer or employee representative body (for example, a union or employer association)
- take small claims court action
- get your own legal advice.