Step by step guide: Preparing for arbitration
Step 1: Read the Notice of Listing and directions
Read the notice of listing. Make any arrangements you need to such as:
- arranging time off work
- arranging childcare.
If you cannot go to a hearing on the day(s) it is listed, you will need to ask the Commission to postpone (adjourn) your case. See
Step 2 for information on how to do this.
Read the directions. Directions are orders made by the Commission about things that you must do to prepare for your case. For example, you will usually be directed to prepare an outline of submissions,
statement of facts (your description of what happened, usually listed in chronological order), and witness statements and give them to your employer and the Commission before the hearing.
For more information, see
How to write a witness statement and
How to write an outline of submissions.
Step 2: Ask for an adjournment if you need one
If you have a good reason why you cannot go on the day it is listed, you will need to apply to adjourn (postpone) arbitration.
It is a good idea to get agreement (consent) from your employer or their legal representative (if they have one) if you want an adjournment.
Put your application in writing. You should explain why you are unavailable. The Commission says you will need 'substantial grounds' to get an adjournment. This means that your reason should be serious. You should attach any evidence that supports your application. For example, a letter from your doctor or a hospital, or evidence of another event you couldn't change on that day, like jury service.
If your matter is adjourned, the Commission will send you another notice of listing telling you the new date. Contact the Commission if you have asked for an adjournment but have not got a response.
Step 3: Gather your witness statements and evidence
You will need to gather the evidence that supports your case. Your evidence needs to answer the questions the Commission will ask about your case, including:
- Are you able to make a general protections dismissal application?
- Were you dismissed in breach of a general protection?
- If you were dismissed in breach of a general protection, what orders should be made?
Evidence from other people and yourself, should be written down in a witness statement.
For more information and help gathering evidence for your case, see
Step 4: Prepare, file and serve your outline of submissions and witness statements
You need to prepare:
An outline of submissions
This is a summary of the arguments in your case and includes any laws or cases you rely on.
Witness statements for all your witnesses
This is a written record of what a witness says about your case.
For more information on this, see
How to write an outline of submissions and
How to write a witness statement.
When you have finished writing these documents, you must file and serve them by the dates set in the Notice of Listing.
'File' means that you must give a copy to the Commission. You can file documents by:
- attaching them to an email
- sending a fax
- sending it through the post.
The contact details for the Commission are on the
Fair Work Commission website.
'Serving' documents means giving a copy to the other side. The contact details for your employer will be on the document called 'Form F8A - Response to general protections application'. This should have been sent to you by your employer before the conciliation. If you do not have a copy you should contact the Commission. You can serve documents by:
- attaching them to an email (if your employer gave an email address in Form F8A)
- sending a fax (if your employer gave a fax number in Form F8A)
- sending it through the post (to the address and person listed in Form F8A).
If your employer has a representative like a solicitor, you must serve the documents on the solicitor.
You must file and serve your outline of submissions and witness statement by the deadline given to you in the directions. If you have not kept to the directions, you may not be allowed to use your witness statements at the hearing or the Commission may send you a notice telling you to attend a non-compliance hearing. For more information, see
Step 5: Plan what to take to arbitration
You will need to take these things with you:
- all your evidence. Take at least three copies of each of your documents as well as copies of the witness statements and outline of submissions that you have filed and served
- your notes for speaking to the Commission member (see Step 4)
- a notebook and pen to make notes
- highlighters and post it notes to mark important information
- your witnesses
- a list of the questions you would like to ask each witness.
Step 6: Plan what to say at arbitration
Write down the main points you want to say. This may include:
- background information about your employment (for example, part time, casual, full time, how long you were employed and your duties)
- when you were dismissed and how
- what general protection you believe your employer has breached by dismissing you
- what orders you want the Commission to make.
Now you have prepared for the hearing, the next step is to present your case on the day of the hearing. For more information, see Step by step guide: Presenting your case at arbitration.