Dispute resolution through the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC)
What is an industrial dispute?
The Industrial Relations Act 2016 defines an industrial dispute as
- a dispute, including a threatened or probable dispute, about an industrial matter,
- a situation that is likely to give rise to a dispute about an industrial matter
Many Queensland awards and agreements contain procedures for dealing with grievances and disputes between employers and employees. However, once these processes have been exhausted with no resolution, it may become necessary to attempt to have the matter resolved through the Industrial Commission.
Who can give notice of an industrial dispute?
Normally, each party notifies the Registrar of the dispute. The parties can include an employer or an employer organisation and an employee or employee organisation.
How do the parties notify the Registrar of a dispute?
A Form 10, NOTICE OF INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE can be downloaded from the Commission's web site and lodged with the registrar. However, notice may be given by mail, fax, or in person.
It is important that the notice contain a request for a conference if required as a notification can be made without a request for a conference.
Immediately after notifying the Registry, the party giving the notice must serve a copy of the notice on all other parties to the dispute.
What happens next ?
Once the Registrar has received notification of the dispute, the matter will be allocated to a Commission Member according to the industry in which the parties are involved.
The Commission Member will then arrange a conference.
All parties to the dispute will be notified by the Registrar of the date, time and place of attendance either by fax or telephone.
Who can attend the Conference?
Either party may choose to be represented by an industrial advocate, an employer or employee organisation or another person of their choice, or they may choose to represent themselves. On some occasions a party may choose to be represented by a solicitor but in these instances, the solicitor will have to seek leave from the Commission Member to appear on their behalf.
What happens in the conference?
The dispute will normally be heard in a conference room at the venue chosen. It is advisable for parties who are not familiar with the process to arrive a few minutes before the time set down for commencement. The Commission Member's Associate will explain the procedures and answer any questions you may have in relation to the proceedings.
It is usual for the proceedings of a conference to be recorded.
Once all parties are present, the Commission Member will normally ask the applicant for a brief statement describing what the dispute is about. It is a good idea to have this prepared in advance. He/She will then ask the respondent to make a statement in response.
The Commission Member may also ask questions of either party in order to clarify matters or to obtain further information. He/she may also have private discussions with each of the parties or chair discussions with both parties around the conference table.
During the course of the conference, the Commission Member may make recommendations and suggestions to help resolve the dispute.
Almost all disputes are resolved in the conference. However, where issues are not resolved, the Commission may refer the matter for determination.
For further information on court procedure and court etiquette, refer to the information sheet "GUIDE FOR UNREPRESENTED PARTIES IN THE QUEENSLAND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS COMMISSION"