Fair work: I have been served

icon for fairwork

If you have been served with an Application – Fair Work, this means an employee (or former employee) has filed an application in the Fair Work division of the Court. The person who filed the application with the Court is known as the applicant and you (as the other party) are known as the respondent.  

You should read the application as soon as possible. 

What should I do next? 

Small claims 

Small claims is faster and more informal than other court proceedings. If a small claim application has been served on you, you have various options. 

You might admit the claim or negotiate an agreement with the employee (or former employee) and agree to pay the money as a lump sum or in instalments. 

You might dispute the claim, either in part or in full. In that case, you should prepare a Response – General federal law, or defence, and gather any supporting documents.  

The application served on you will include a hearing date. You might decide not to respond or attend the hearing. At the hearing, the Court might make orders against you in your absence if the applicant can show that you were aware of the proceedings and that they have a valid claim. 

If you do respond to the claim, you will need to file a response and any supporting documents within 28 days after the day on which you were served. If the hearing date is less than 28 days from when you are served, you should still try to file your response at least a few days before the hearing.  

If you cannot file a response before the hearing because the applicant has not given you enough time to prepare your response, you should still attend the hearing and tell the Court that you have not had enough time to prepare a response. You should be ready, however, that a judge might still decide to hear the case on the day. 

Generally with a small claims application, you cannot have a lawyer represent you at the hearing(s) (and neither can the applicant) unless you have leave of the Court (this means asking the Court’s permission). 

For more information about the small claims process see, Small claims

Other Fair Work applications 

For other Fair Work applications you may choose to file a Response – General federal law before the first court date. The application served on you will include details of the first court date. 

If you file a response, you must file and serve the response within 28 days after receiving the application. You may also need to file an Affidavit - General federal law and migration with your response. 

If you do not file a response, you must file and serve a Notice of address for service before the hearing.  

You (or your lawyer) must attend court on the first court date. If you don’t attend, the Court could make orders against you.  

Filing with the Court 

Wherever possible, you must file court documents online using eLodgment. See the Federal Court website for guidelines. 

If it is not possible to file using eLodgment, you may be able to file your documents in person, by mail, or in certain circumstances by fax or email. Contact the Court if you are not sure how to file the documents. 

Any documents filed with the Court must also be served on the applicant. You can serve documents by delivering them in person, posting them, emailing them or faxing them.  

Seeking legal advice 

You should seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. They can also explain how the law applies to your case. Industrial law can be complex and it is important to obtain some independent legal advice in relation to your situation.