Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

General Information

Informal non-adversarial way of sorting out disagreements or disputes through a mutually agreeable course of action.

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What is mediation.

Mediation is an informal, non-adversarial way of sorting out disagreements or disputes.

An Industrial Relations Commissioner will meet with the employer/s and employee/s in disagreement and work with them to reach an agreement to settle their differences.

 
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What kind of problems can mediation help with?

Mediation can help resolve any question, dispute (or potential dispute) or difficulty between employers and employees.

This can include poor performance as well as any matter relating to the dismissal of an employee or a refusal or failure to allow an employee a benefit under a contract of employment.

 
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Facilities available at the Commission.

Mediation can be held at the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, which has conference rooms, meeting rooms, telephone conferencing and video links.

It can also be held at any place the employer/s and employee/s agree is suitable, providing that sufficient meeting rooms and resources are available.

 
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How to request mediation.

An employee, a group of employees, an employer, a group of employers or an organisation of employees or employers may make a request for mediation of an employment dispute by completing a request Form M1 and either lodging it at the address below or completing it online.

Registry Department,
Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission,
Level 17, 111 St Georges Terrace,
Perth, 6000.

There is no fee for filing the form. Informal requests can be made by contacting the Commission online or by telephone, facsimile, email or letter.

 
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Key features & benefits.

Voluntary – Each employer and employee involved (or likely to be involved) in the employment dispute must consent to the Commission acting as mediator. You only take part if you want to and you can withdraw at any time.

Free – Mediation is free.

Fast – Mediation is speedy.

Successful resolution of dispute – Mediation tends to have high success rates.

Control by the parties – The employer/s and employee/s themselves control the outcomes.

Impartial – The Commissioner who acts as your mediator will not take sides, make any judgment or require you to do anything.

Recommendations – If the employer/s and employee/s request, the Commissioner may make recommendations about aspects of the employment dispute.

Confidential – Mediation is held in private and the Commission may give directions as to persons who may be present. No evidence or matters contained in documents lodged with the Commission may be published or disclosed unless the Commission makes an order.

Settlement – If the employer/s and employee/s consent, their agreement may be registered under the Industrial Relations Act 1979 and it may be enforced as if it were an industrial agreement registered under that Act.

 
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Why choose mediation?

The Commission is a suitable environment for discussion by the employer/s and employee/s.

It avoids the time and expense of instituting and being involved in legal proceedings.

You have the opportunity of putting your own position to an impartial third party (the Commissioner).

Dialogue can resume where direct negotiations have broken down.

Talking through and explaining why positions are held can cause perspectives to change.

The mediation process is a way of improving understanding of each other's positions.

It can be helpful if a third party (the Commissioner) provides a review of the positions taken.

Employers and employees can explore the consequences of not being able to agree.

Mediation is a forum for expressing new ideas to resolve a deadlock and for exploring ideas that have been rejected without detailed consideration in direct negotiations.

Mediation can repair relationships and build trust.

Any settlement will be on terms agreed by the employer/s and employee/s, and is not imposed by the Commission.

 
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What will the mediator do?

The Commissioner conducting the mediation will talk through the issues to see if a solution can be found, engaging employer/s and employee/s in effective dialogue and discussion of possible solutions.

The Commissioner may hold meetings with the employer/s and employee/s together, or with each person separately, to discuss issues to find out about the situation and each person’s position. It may be necessary for the Commissioner to meet with the employer/s and employee/s separately before convening any meetings with them.

Each person will have an opportunity to speak and say how he/she feels without being interrupted, and will be able to ask questions and respond to what the other has said.

Each person can indicate his/her preferred outcomes and have the opportunity to express his/her interests.

Time out will be given during the mediation if people need to consider proposals or obtain information.

The Commissioner will ask questions to establish all relevant facts, help you look at the situation realistically, identify the real issues in contention and assist you to come up with solutions to settle the dispute.

The Commissioner will not take sides or judge who is right or wrong, will not have power to compel a person to do anything, to arbitrate the employment dispute, to otherwise determine the rights and obligations of employers or employees or make a decision in relation to the employment dispute. Any agreement must be acceptable to all.

 
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Can a group of employees or employers be represented?

Yes, a group may appoint a person to represent it.

 
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Is what is said in a mediation proceeding private?

Yes, mediation is held in private and the Commissioner may give directions about persons who may be present during the mediation or referral proceeding.

 
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What happens if a settlement is reached?

If an agreement is reached, the Commissioner (if everyone agrees) may register the agreement as a mediation settlement agreement, which is binding on all the parties and may be enforced as if it was an industrial agreement under the Industrial Relations Act 1979.

However, such an agreement cannot vary the operation of an existing award, order or industrial agreement.

 

 

EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE RESOLUTION


The Employment Dispute Resolution Act 2008  enables employers or employees to ask a WAIRC Commissioner to mediate any question, dispute, or difficulty that arises between them. It creates a dispute resolution process which is:

        informal...
            easily accessible...
                expeditious...
                        AND
                            effective

Mediation By Consent.

You can request mediation as an employee, a group of employees, an employer, a group of employers or an organisation of employees or employers.

Each of the employers and employees involved in the dispute must agree to the Commission acting as mediator.

Key questions and answers on mediation can be found here. 

Written Referral Agreements

Where an employer and employees have a written agreement that the Commission may deal with employment disputes or difficulties, mediation can be requested pursuant to that written agreement.

Key questions and answers on written referral agreements can be found here. 
Examples of wording suitable for a written agreement are set out here.

Mediation Under Commonwealth Enterprise Agreement

Where an employer and employees are party to a federal enterprise agreement, the Commission can provide mediation or other forms of dispute resolution pursuant to that federal enterprise agreement.

Key questions and answers on resolution under the Commonwealth Fair Work Act can be found here. 

Examples of the dispute resolution functions

Examples of the dispute resolution functions are set out here.

How to lodge an application?

An application can be submitted online or by downloading the form, completing it and lodging it at the Registry in person or by post, fax or email attachment.

The Commission is located at Level 17, 111 St Georges Terrace, Perth, WA 6000.

Contact numbers are:
Phone: 9420 4444
Facsimile: 9420 4500
Free Call: 1800 624 263
Free Fax: 1800 804 987

The Commission may also deal with matters in suburban locations, country towns and regional locations, or by teleconference or video link.

To lodge applications online - click here.

THE EMPLOYMENT DISPUTE RESOLUTION ACT

The Employment Dispute Resolution Act 2008 is legislation that enables employers and employees to seek the services of the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission to prevent or resolve workplace disputes.

The primary objective of the Act is to create a dispute resolution framework that is informal, easily accessible, expedient and efficient with minimal costs. It establishes a dispute resolution system that is outside the traditional role.

Background

This legislation marks a watershed in Western Australian industrial relations by creating an alternate stream to the 100 year old compulsory conciliation and arbitration system.  This new Act allows the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission to offer a service that is voluntary, involves minimal expense, is easy to initiate, and is available to employers, unions and employees who want to use it.  It is even available to those covered by the national industrial relations system.

This new mediation stream, as a preferred method of employment dispute settlement, has been evolving for some years and follows on from the changes in industrial relations over the last 10 years that have seen the diminution of a centralised system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration to one where disputes are resolved at the enterprise level. 

The “traditional” conciliation and arbitration roles continue for those who want to use it, but this new stream provides a dispute solving option that is less formal and largely determined by the employer and employees and does not enable the Commission to determine matters, unless it is  requested to do so.

Commonwealth Coverage is No Bar

The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission can be requested to mediate employment disputes where the employer and employees are in the Commonwealth jurisdiction.    This means that even those employers (and their employees) that would otherwise be in the Commonwealth jurisdiction, may ask the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission to mediate in a dispute.

When it does so, the Commission may only perform the functions which the employer and employees agree it can perform, whether it is simply mediation, or whether it goes further into conciliation or arbitration, and even with a right to appeal.

Using the Experience

The intention of the Act is to make use of the Industrial Relations Commission’s extensive experience in dispute resolution by having it apply in a voluntary mediation context.

Smaller Business

The Act will be particularly appealing to small businesses which do not have the range of in-house “human resource management” staff and are wary of the complexity of the formal industrial relations dispute settling processes.  It will especially appeal to employers, employees and organisations who want to have more control over how their disputes should be resolved.

Basically the Act provides an informal avenue for employers or employees to request the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission to mediate an employment dispute. Mediation will be informal, convenient and non-legalistic, and the expertise of the Industrial Relations Commission will be provided at no cost.

Any Dispute May be Brought

Matters that employers or employees may bring to the Industrial Relations Commission are not confined to the traditional meaning of “industrial dispute”. Employers, unions and employees may use the mediation service for any question, dispute or difficulty that arises out of, or in the course of, employment in their workplace.

It's All Voluntary but Agreements Can Be Enforced

In conducting mediation, the Industrial Relations Commission will not be able to compel a person to do anything, arbitrate or otherwise determine the rights or obligations of a party, unless everyone involved agrees.  The intention of the legislation is to encourage employers and employees to establish their own, agreed outcomes to resolve disputes.

When agreement is reached, the Industrial Relations Commission will be able to register the agreed outcome as a mediation settlement agreement.  This registered agreement is able to be enforced in the Industrial Magistrates Court.

The Methods of Bringing the Dispute to the Industrial Commission

One of the options open to employers and employees is to have a “referral agreement” clause in their enterprise agreement which allows any person, by consent, to refer a matter to the Industrial Relations Commission.  In doing so, it is the employers and employees themselves who determine the parameters for the resolution of the dispute by the Commission.  The Commission has no authority beyond what they permit.  It is this which marks this system as a significant departure from the traditional compulsory arbitration by industrial tribunals.

A referral agreement can relate to a specific dispute and its resolution, or it can relate to disputes between the employers and employees of a particular type as specified in the agreement. Parties to the referral agreement will set out what role the Commission will have.   That is, they will decide whether the Commission is able to mediate, conciliate or arbitrate disputes.

The Commission will be able to make binding determinations about the scope or meaning of the referral agreement in order to curtail jurisdictional arguments which can prolong the dispute resolution. 

If the employer and employees agree to have their agreement registered in the Commission, it will be able to vary the operation of an existing State award, order or industrial agreement.  Beyond this however, the Commission can only make binding orders or decisions when the parties, via their referral agreement, allow it to do so.

Dispute Resolution under Commonwealth agreements

Parties to a Commonwealth enterprise agreement must include in the agreement a dispute resolution procedure that allows the WA Industrial Relations Commission to deal with disputes.

 

Further information and support is available from the officers of the

WA Industrial Relations Commission on 9420 4444

xxxxx

Contact Us

Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission
17th Floor
111 St Georges Terrace
PERTH WA 6000

Phone : (08) 9420 4444
Facsimile : (08) 9420 4500
Free Call : 1800 624 263

Free Fax :1800 804 987

Email : Registry

 

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