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

If you are an employer or independent contractor and you are having a dispute about pay or conditions, read Preventing and managing disputes. You can also contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.

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

New South Wales

Northern Territory


South Australia



Western Australia

What to do...

Thanks for your feedback. If you have any ideas on how we can improve, we'd love to hear them.

Please provide your comments in the feedback form.

You might also be interested in