Complaints & dispute resolution
Problems arise every day between businesses and their employees. Most problems between employers and employees relate to issues such as wages, awards and agreements, harassment or discrimination.
How do I deal with an employee dispute?
While there are many ways to resolve conflicts, most problems can be resolved through simple discussion and common sense between the parties involved. In virtually all instances, you should at first attempt to resolve a dispute through direct discussion and negotiation. This will save you and your business from the possibility of a costly legal battle.
The Fair Work Ombudsman's website has an online learning centre with free interactive courses to help employers and employees talk to each other about difficult topics. The courses help you get ready for the conversation and practise your skills.
Establishing a process to resolve complaints without the need for court involvement is not only a cheap and effective way to resolve disputes, it is an important part of your legal responsibilities as an employer.
Making a complaint
Right of entry to the workplace
In the event of a dispute, industrial organisations, such as unions, may have the right to enter your workplace. By entering your workplace, they are able to look into suspected breaches of awards and agreements, federal workplace relations laws, some state or territory Workplace Health and Safety (WHS/OH&S) laws and to hold discussions with certain employees.
Before an official can enter a workplace, they need to have a valid and current right of entry permit from Fair Work Commission. If an official has a valid permit and is complying with the relevant rules, you must not stop them from entering.
If you are unsure whether someone has the right to enter your workplace, search the Fair Work Commission online database.
Complaints and dispute resolution in your state or territory
Australian Capital Territory
- Visit the ACT Government website.
New South Wales
- The Office of Industrial Relations provides information on disputes in the workplace.
- The Community Justice Centre provides mediation services in the Northern Territory.
- Information on workplace dispute resolution from the Business QLD website.
- Industrial Relations - employment relations information service.
- Information on dispute resolution from the Tasmanian Industrial Commission.
- Resolving disputes from the Business Victoria.
- Information for employers from the Department of Commerce website.
What to do...
- Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's website for information about resolving issues in the workplace, including best practice approaches to dispute resolution.
- Visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website for information about employer responsibilities and good practice complaint handling.
- Read about Dispute resolution.
- If you have a dispute regarding right of entry, you should contact Fair Work Commission on 1300 799 675.
- Read the Right of entry fact sheet on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.