SOLVING COMPLAINTS: Ombudsman Michael Campbell is encouraging communication.
SOLVING COMPLAINTS: Ombudsman Michael Campbell is encouraging communication. CONTRIBUTED

Fast dispute fix for Fair Work Ombudsman

AUSTRALIA'S Fair Work Ombudsman hopes to speed up its complaint-handling process by giving employers copies of complaints made against them at the start of the process.

Previously employers who were the subject of complaints would receive only summaries of those complaints.

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell said the change was part of a drive to encourage a co-operative approach to resolving disputes.

The Fair Work Ombudsman receives about 25,000 complaints every year, and about three quarters are resolved by employers without formal investigations taking place.

"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," Mr Campbell said.

"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.

"If we can win the confidence of both employers and employees at the start of contact with the Fair Work Ombudsman we are hopeful that even more disputes will be resolved directly between the parties. Allowing employers to see the full complaint lodged by an employee is an important step towards that goal."

Mr Campbell said if issues were not resolved, inspectors could conduct formal investigations and employers could be face court .

"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."

Employers or employees seeking assistance should visit or phone the Fair Work Infoline on 131 394.