Fair work: Avoiding court

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Depending on the type of issue/s, there are a number of ways to attempt to resolve your dispute before coming to Court.

Use the dispute resolution procedures in your award or enterprise agreement

The quickest and easiest way for you to resolve a dispute with your employer is to use the dispute resolution options available at your workplace. Employment contractsmodern awards and enterprise agreements often contain a dispute resolution procedure that should be followed to help resolve disputes.

If you are no longer working for the employer, you could still try talking to them or writing to them to try to resolve the matter by agreement.

If you cannot resolve the dispute informally, you might send a formal letter to your employer (or former employer) asking that they pay you what you believe you are owed. The letter should outline what the dispute is about and the different entitlements you believe are owed. You should explain how you reached your calculation. If your claim is under $100,000, you should be clear that you intend to start a small claim legal proceeding if the matter is not resolved by a set date. Sending a letter creates a final opportunity to resolve things without legal proceedings.

Settling a dispute privately has many benefits. It can save time and is often less stressful and costly than going through a formal legal process. See the Fair Work Commission’s page Resolving issues at the workplace for more information.

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman aims to help you understand your rights and responsibilities at work. They work with employees, employers and the community to educate and encourage compliance with Australia's workplace laws.

The Fair Work Ombudsman provides lots of resources to help resolve workplace issues.

TIP: The Fair Work Ombudsman’s website provides details about the difference between the Ombudsman’s role and the role of the Fair Work Commission.

Fair Work Commission

If you are unable to resolve your dispute at the workplace directly or through mediation, you can file an application with the Fair Work Commission.

The following pages on the Fair Work Commission website provide information about how the Commission can assist with resolving disputes:

Other legal assistance

A community legal centre or legal aid may also be able to assist you with advice about how to resolve your dispute or other options for getting help from a third-party mediator. For more information about getting legal assistance see Find a lawyer.

What happens if I can’t resolve the dispute?

If you cannot resolve your dispute at the Fair Work Commission or with other assistance, you can seek the assistance of a suitable court. For more information see Small claims and I want to apply.