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Complaints and feedback

Complaints about Commission staff

The Commission’s service charter outlines the nature and level of service the public can expect from Commission staff. The service charter is published on the Commission’s website at www.fwc.gov.au.

The website provides information on how to make a complaint or provide feedback on the Commission’s administrative activity. The Commission uses feedback and complaints to identify service problems and potential improvements, while recognising that each year some complaints involve issues that are outside the jurisdiction or authority of the Commission’s administration.

The Commission aims to respond to written complaints within 20 working days. In 2020–21, the Commission responded within an average of 10 working days, the same response time as in 2019–20.

Complaints about Members

The Commission has a separate process for dealing with complaints about Members, in accordance with the Fair Work Act. Information about the complaint handling process is available on the Commission’s website.

When conducting hearings and conferences, Member responsibilities include listening to evidence, understanding relevant information and ensuring that proceedings are fair and that parties are treated with courtesy and respect. The Fair Hearings Practice Note is available on the Commission’s website.

Reporting about complaints

The President deals with complaints about Members, including by discussing them with the person concerned. Complaints concerning a Member’s conduct are reported according to whether they were substantiated.

A substantial number of complaints involved issues that were outside the Commission’s jurisdiction or authority or which are appropriately dealt with through other processes such as lodging an appeal, applying for judicial review or seeking a remedy through existing processes such as making a recusal application. Complaints about the content of modern awards or enterprise agreements usually cannot be resolved through the complaints process and require a formal application to be lodged to amend or vary these instruments.

In 2020–21, a total of 125 complaints were received, equating to 0.4 per cent of the 29,631 applications lodged in the reporting period, as set out in Table 3.

Table 3: Complaints

Subject

2020-211

Total Member complaints1

54

Member conduct in relation to a conference or hearing – not substantiated2

44

Member conduct in relation to a conference or hearing – partially substantiated or acknowledged2

2

Member conduct – referral to external complaint handler

0

Member conduct – referral to the Minister

0

Member conduct – referral to another agency

0

Process4

48

Outcome5

29

Other7

4

Total of all other complaints1

71

Staff conduct3

23

Process4

28

Administration6

7

Other7

3

  1. A complaint can concern more than one subject. Accordingly, the results are not cumulative. As the Commission has changed its complaint classifications and reporting methodology, information from previous years is not available.
  2. Complaints regarding conduct include whether Members met their responsibilities under the Practice Note: Fair Hearings and Member Code of Conduct.
  3. Complaints about the conduct of staff conciliations, including whether staff conciliators listened to both parties and understood the issues, and whether staff acted in accordance with the service charter and APS Code of Conduct.
  4. ‘Process’ relates to dissatisfaction with, or misunderstanding of, the Commission’s processes. This includes complaints about timeliness, scheduling and adjournment of conferences and hearings and conflict of interest or bias of a Member. Complaints in this category can concern a fundamental misunderstanding of the Commission’s role and authority. ‘Process’ includes individual categories previously reported for ‘pay and entitlements’, ‘complaint relating to modern awards or enterprise agreements’ and ‘adjournment refusal request’.
  5. Complaints about the outcome of a matter relate to decisions of the Commission. These matters generally cannot be dealt with through the complaints process and require the complainant to lodge a formal appeal of the decision or to seek judicial review.
  6. ‘Administration’ includes administrative errors, information (including availability and accessibility of procedural information) and errors with the website and online lodgment service.
  7. Other’ includes complaints where there is insufficient information to permit assessment, the complaint is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or not in good faith and where a complainant makes a series of complaints about one or more applications and/or Members and/or staff.