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Fair Work Conciliation Process - An Overview

Fair Work Conciliation Process - An Overview

What is conciliation?

Conciliation is an informal method of resolving an unfair dismissal application. An independent conciliator can help the parties explore options for a resolution without the need for a formal conference or hearing. Participating in conciliation is voluntary.

Most unfair dismissal cases are resolved in this way, with an agreement made between the parties at this informal stage.

Who are the conciliators?

Conciliators are Commission staff who are trained and experienced in conciliation, workplace relations and unfair dismissal law.

What happens at conciliation?

On the day of conciliation:

  • The conciliation is usually held by telephone and may take approximately 90 minutes.
  • A conciliator will call the parties (and their representatives if represented) on a conference call.
  • The conciliator will explain the process, and then:

o ask each of the parties to briefly summarise why the dismissal was unfair/fair

o hold an open discussion between the parties

o hold private discussions with each party to discuss ways in which the matter can be resolved

o discusses proposals for resolution.

  • If the parties reach an in-principle agreement, the conciliator can prepare a written agreement which will be emailed to both parties for them to sign.
  • If the parties do not reach an agreement, the conciliator will explain the next steps in the process.

During this process, the conciliator:

  • will actively help the parties to reach a resolution
  • leads discussions and provide guidance
  • may explore the issues
  • may challenge views expressed, explore alternatives and comment on possible outcomes

The conciliator will not:

  • represent or advocate for either the employee or the employer
  • give legal advice or make decisions.

How do I prepare for conciliation?

It is recommended that you use the following list as a guide for preparing for a conciliation:

  • have an idea of what it is that you want to achieve
  • write down the key issues and possible solutions
  • be flexible and prepared to negotiate
  • listen and consider other points of view
  • focus on the issues, not on the emotions
  • have relevant documents ready (e.g. payslips, contracts of employment)
  • arrange a private place without interruptions to take the call
  • use a hands-free phone or mobile phone if possible
  • be realistic about the likely outcome

What if there is no agreement after conciliation?

While most conciliations do result in agreement, if no agreement is reached, the matter will progress to a formal conference or hearing.

A Commission member will then conduct a formal conference or hearing and make a binding decision.

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

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