There are seven steps you need to take to prepare for a conciliation at the Fair Work Commission (the Commission):
Your matter will normally be listed for telephone conciliation (unless you have asked to have an interpreter). If there is a reason why a telephone conciliation is not suitable in your situation, you should contact the Commission as soon as possible. It may be possible to have a face to face conciliation.
If there is a very good reason why you cannot be available at that time, contact the Commission straight away. The contact details will be on the Notice of Listing.
Arrange a quiet, private place to be during the conciliation. You may need to arrange time off work, or arrange childcare.
If your phone uses batteries, make sure that it is fully charged before the conciliation so that your phone can stay on for the whole call. Conciliation will last for around 90 minutes.
The Notice of Listing will ask you to give your contact telephone numbers to the Commission. Decide which telephone number you want to use and make sure you give this to the Commission. You can contact the Commission by using the contact details on the Notice of Listing.
If you haven't already asked for an interpreter in your application, you should contact the Commission as soon as possible if you need one. Don't wait to long to ask! It takes time to organise interpreters and, if you leave it too late, it may not be possible to organise an interpreter for you. If the Commission organises an interpreter, your conciliation will usually be held face to face rather than over the telephone.
Make sure you read the employer's response to your application carefully. This will help you understand what the employer is saying about your application.
Read any documents the employer has attached. Compare them with your documents.
If you have not been sent a copy of the employer's response, contact the Fair Work Commission.
If your employer has claimed there is a problem with your application (for example, that it was made outside the time limit) you should get legal advice about this.
Before the conciliation, you should make sure you understand how the law applies to your case.
Read the materials on this website:
Read all the material that the Commission has sent to you.
You should also find out whether your employer owes you money, like:
At conciliation you can ask for these amounts to be paid to you. This could be part of a settlement agreement. You could not get an order for these amounts if your unfair dismissal case goes to a hearing (you would have to start a second case to get unpaid wages). For help finding out if you are owed any money, see
Finding employment law. If you need more help, you should get
If you make an unfair dismissal application to the Commission, the Commission can only make orders about the dismissal. The Commission cannot make orders about back-pay for underpaid wages or other entitlements you are owed.
You should also make sure you get advice on any other issues that might affect your case, for example:
You should get
legal advice. You may be able to get a lawyer from Legal Aid or a Community Legal Centre to help you for free. You can talk to a solicitor about:
If you want a lawyer to represent you at the conciliation, you should arrange this as soon as possible. If you are thinking about paying for a lawyer you will need to decide whether this is the right decision for you, considering the amount of money you might get from settling your case.
If you cannot arrange for a solicitor or union officer to speak for you, it is possible to have a family member or friend with you to support you while you speak. Make sure you arrange this in plenty of time before the date of the conciliation.
If you are using a friend or family member as a support person, it is a good idea not to use someone that may be an important witness if your case goes ahead to a hearing.
Think about how you want to end the dispute. Do you want:
Some things to consider:
For each option, think about whether it is realistic. For example, it might not be realistic to ask for reinstatement if you worked for a very small business.
For a handy tool to help you prepare your thoughts, see
Preparing for conciliation - Worksheet.
You should put all the documents about your case together. You should have these with you during the conciliation so that you can quickly find any information or documents you need.
You will need:
You have already explained your complaint in your application form. Take the time to read this again and see if there is anything you have left out or anything else you think you want to explain in more detail. If you have made a mistake in your application, you should get
legal advice. You should prepare a summary of why you applied to the Commission (which will include the reasons listed in your application and anything else you want to explain). Write it down. You can read from this document when the conciliator asks you to talk about why you think you were unfairly dismissed.
If you have not included dates for conversations, meetings or emails, make a note of these now.
A chronology is a list of everything that happened in date order. For information on how to prepare one, see
How to write a chronology. To see what a chronology could look like, see
For more information, see
Going to conciliation - Step by step guide.
For answers to commonly asked questions, see
Going to the Fair Work Commission - Frequently Asked Questions.