What happens at conciliation stays at conciliation
Once an unfair dismissal application is filed, the Fair Work Commission will then notify the parties (usually the applicant employee and respondent employer) that conciliation is to be conducted. Generally, a conciliation is conducted over the phone and it is the way the Commission provides an informal method of resolving the unfair dismissal claim. Conciliation is usually done privately so the discussions don’t go public.
There is no obligation to reach a settlement if you do not want to. It is the rights of the parties to maintain the position stated in the Application and have the matter proceed to a hearing. Settlement can be a good way to resolve the matter avoiding further stress and delays.
Any party that is unrepresented is offered a 3-day cooling off period following the conciliation so that they can make a decision whether to opt out of the agreed settlement.
Preparing for conciliation
It is important that you prepare for conciliation, it is important to make sure that the Commission has the right phone number to call and you know the day and time of conciliation. Consider the following to prepare:
- make sure you are available on the day;
- set aside a place to have a private conversation as conciliation will take about 45-90 minutes;
- make sure you are able to be reached on the telephone you give;
- bring all the paperwork you need to participate in the conciliation including your application, any letter of termination and employment contract;
- have a good idea as to what you will accept at conciliation in terms of a settlement;
- bring a pen and paper to make your own notes during conciliation.
What happens if conciliation is successful
If an agreement is met at conciliation, then the conciliator will prepare an agreement for all parties to sign. This agreement is usually a deed of settlement and release. If signed the matter comes to an end and whatever is agreed during conciliation will be in the deed and will make up the entire settlement.
Once it is fully executed the conciliator should provide both parties of a copy of the signed agreement.
What happens if conciliation is not successful
If the parties cannot agree, then the conciliator will consider conciliation to have failed. Once this occurs the matter will be sent to a formal conference or hearing. There is still time for the employee to discontinue the application but if this doesn’t happen then a hearing date may be set.
How we can help
There are a number of ways we can help you get the best result from your unfair dismissal application from attending the conciliation with you to running the hearing. If you want you can get some tips from me.
The information in this document, broadcast or communication is provided for general guidance only. It is not legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal or other advisors. No warranty is given to the correctness of the information contained in this document, broadcast or communication or its suitability for use by you. To the fullest extent permitted by law, no liability is accepted by the publisher for any statement or opinion, or for an error or omission or for any loss or damage suffered as a result of reliance on or use by any person of any material in the document, broadcast or communication.
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