Conciliation – To Fear or Not to Fear

Common scenario – You’ve  just received a letter advising that an employee has lodged a request for conciliation. You read through it and it tells you the nature of the dispute, when it was lodged and who is involved – the Agent, employee and the employee’s representatives (often this is a legal firm).

At this point many employers may feel a sense of unease – What is conciliation? How did this happen? The employee is represented, who is representing us? Do I need legal representation?

Well, you can relax because we understand and are here to help.

Conciliation is not to be feared. It is an informal meeting between the parties of the dispute to discuss the decision that has been made and where possible resolve the matter before it goes down the litigation pathway.

Typically, the types of disputes that find their way to conciliation mainly include rejection of liability and termination of weekly payments and/or medical expenses. Importantly, you may not agree with the decision that has brought you to this point. The Agent is there to defend their decision. Therefore your attendance and having appropriate representation at Conciliation can be vital in making sure that an outcome can be achieved to the benefit of all parties. After all, the employer – employee relationship still needs to be managed and maintained, regardless of the outcome.

You’re at Conciliation, so what happens now?

A conciliator chairs the meeting, ensuring that the Agent, employee, employee representative (a solicitor can only attend if all parties agree), employer or employer representative have an opportunity to discuss the decision that has been made and why they agree or disagree with it. Private discussions are then held and this is the perfect opportunity to consider all the information available and put forward an offer(s) to try and resolve the matter.  This is a really important part of the process. Keep an open mind and giving a little here to resolve the matter may be the best outcome in the long run.

The conciliator will then discuss offers or counter-offers with the parties in an attempt to gain agreement. One of the following outcomes will be achieved at the conclusion of these discussions:

  1. The Agent may Withdraw their decision;
  2. A Recommendation is proposed to resolve the dispute and is agreed to by all parties;
  3. The matter is referred to the Medical Panel (if the dispute relates to medical questions);
  4. The conciliator issues a Direction that weekly payments and/or medical expenses be paid for a limited period;
  5. A Genuine Dispute is found allowing the matter to proceed to court to determine the matter.

Do not fear the conciliation process. You do not require legal representation, however having someone with sound worker’s compensation knowledge representing you will help in achieving the best possible outcome for you and your employee.

Call NewCare now!