FWO improves complaint resolution process


Inspectors will now routinely provide employers with a written copy of employee complaints at the start of complaint resolution process

May 2, 2013

Employers embroiled in disputes with their workers will now receive written copies of complaints lodged with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

The agency says it is improving its complaint resolution processes to resolve matters sooner.

Inspectors will now routinely provide employers with a written copy of employee complaints at the start of the process. In the past, only summarised complaints from employees have been provided to employers.

"We want to ensure our Fair Work inspectors are seen as a neutral third party in disputes and that we are there to assist both employers and employees," Acting Ombudsman Michael Campbell says.

"Complaints are often the result of poor communication between employee and employer or a lack of information. It can be quite confronting for an employer to be the subject of a formal complaint by a worker."

Campbell says the FWO is hopeful it will be able to resolve disputes directly between an employer and an employee if it can win the confidence of both parties.

"Allowing employers to see the full complaint lodged by an employee is an important step towards that goal," he says.

The FWO says it receives about 25,000 complaints every year. About 75 percent of these are resolved voluntarily by employers without the need for escalation to a formal investigation.

Voluntary resolution involves Fair Work inspectors educating employers and employees about workplace laws that apply to their situation.

If necessary, the FWO will help employers put processes in place to ensure they are following relevant laws in the future.

"Of course, where issues aren’t resolved, our inspectors can conduct investigations and ultimately we can take matters to court to seek compliance with workplace laws," Campbell says.

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