The Fair Work Commission (FWC) was established by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Act) and is the national workplace relations tribunal in Australia. The FWC assists employers and employees to maintain a fair workplace. One of its many roles is to act as an independent umpire in disputes, including unfair dismissal claims by employees.

An employee can make application to the FWC if they believe they have been unfairly dismissed, discriminated against or bullied at work. To lodge a claim, an employee must file an “Unfair Dismissal Application”. Once lodged, provided the claim is within the time periods specified by the Act, the FWC will deal with the claim by way of the procedure set out in the FWC Practice Note – Unfair Dismissal Proceedings.

After the employer has been afforded an opportunity to respond, Conciliation is one of the first steps to take place in the FWC’s management of an unfair dismissal claim.

What is Conciliation?

Conciliation is the voluntary process where, by telephone, a FWC conciliator attempts to help the employee and the employer resolve the matter without the need for a formal FWC conference or hearing. All matters discussed are kept confidential and there should be no pressure to resolve the matter. It should be noted that unrepresented parties are given 3 days “cooling off” after conciliation to ensure that they wish to proceed with any agreement negotiated at conciliation.

Most conciliations in the FWC can take up to 90 minutes.

Importantly the conciliator is to remain independent and cannot give either party legal advice or make any type of decision on the facts. The conciliator is there merely to assist the parties to explore the issues and attempt to reach a resolution in the matter.

How to prepare for conciliation?

Essentially, the conciliator will manage the structure of the conciliation conference. This will involve an introductory part where the conciliator introduces all the parties and asks each party to make an opening statement. The conciliator will then hold private discussions with each party and explore any possible resolution between the parties as a result of those discussions before bringing those parties back together to see if there is any common ground. Finally, if an agreement can be reached, the conciliator will help the parties document the agreement.

However, while much of the formal parts are up to the conciliator, to ensure that you get the most out of conciliation it is important to make a serious effort to take part in the conciliation and respect the court processes – such as the allocated time for the conciliation conference and be respectful to the other party involved in the conference. All parties taking part in the conference should also have access to all of their evidence and other material to assist their claim (or defence to the claim). Finally, it is a good idea to have clear in your own mind what you would like to achieve from the conciliation conference and a realistic idea about the legal costs involved in pursuing a matter against what might ultimately be recovered.


If you require any assistance with the conciliation process in the FWC, please contact one of our employment lawyers on 1300 544 755.

COVID-19 Business Survey
LegalVision is conducting a survey on the impact of COVID-19 for businesses across Australia. The survey takes 2 minutes to complete and all responses are anonymous. We would appreciate your input. Take the survey now.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.

The majority of our clients are LVConnect members. By becoming a member, you can stay ahead of legal issues while staying on top of costs. For just $199 per month, membership unlocks unlimited lawyer consultations, faster turnaround times, free legal templates and members-only discounts.

Learn more about LVConnect

Emma Heuston
Need Legal Help? Get a Free Fixed-Fee Quote

If you would like to receive a free fixed-fee quote or get in touch with our team, fill out the form below.

  • By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails from LegalVision and can unsubscribe at any time. See our full Privacy Policy.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Our Awards
  • 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn 2019 Top 25 Startups - LinkedIn
  • 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards 2019 NewLaw Firm of the Year - Australian Law Awards
  • 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500 2020 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards 2020 Law Firm of the Year Finalist - Australasian Law Awards
  • Most Innovative Law Firm - 2019 Australasian Lawyer 2019 Most Innovative Firm - Australasian Lawyer
Privacy Policy Snapshot

We collect and store information about you. Let us explain why we do this.

What information do you collect?

We collect a range of data about you, including your contact details, legal issues and data on how you use our website.

How do you collect information?

We collect information over the phone, by email and through our website.

What do you do with this information?

We store and use your information to deliver you better legal services. This mostly involves communicating with you, marketing to you and occasionally sharing your information with our partners.

How do I contact you?

You can always see what data you’ve stored with us.

Questions, comments or complaints? Reach out on 1300 544 755 or email us at

View Privacy Policy