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    Advocacy for Workplace Relations Professionals

    Advocacy in the Fair Work Commission
    With a depth of practical experience in dealing with workplace relations matters, Employee Relations professional, Craig McFadden, recently completed the Advocacy for Workplace Relations Professionals program. This program included preparing and presenting a case before current members of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC). An advocate means a person representing a party to a matter before the Fair Work Commission.
    It is not necessary for a party before the Commission to be represented by a lawyer or paid agent and many parties choose to represent themselves in Commission proceedings. However, a party may seek permission from the Member hearing the matter to be represented. 
    The Fair Work Commission prohibits lawyers advocating at hearings so as to maintain an accessible, informal and low-cost jurisdiction, with parties required to seek permission if they want to be legally represented. Employers, particularly larger ones, should not assume that permission to appear before the Commission will be granted, and there will be circumstances where external lawyers are not only refused leave to appear, but asked to leave the room.  Recent decisions demonstrate that employers may find they need to front the Commission through representation by their own internal staff without the assistance of their external legal advisors.  Savvy HR provides independent experience to support clients to deal with informal grievances through to conducting formal investigations and what to expect in the event of an unfair dismissal claim.
    We are often asked about allowing the employee to have a support person present to assist at any discussions relating to dismissal:

    Advocacy in the Fair Work Commission Craig McFadden Employe Relations specialist

    The role of a support person under the Fair Work Act

    Section 387 of the FWA contains the criteria which the FWC or a court must take into account when determining if a dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. One of these factors is whether there was ‘any unreasonable refusal by the employer to allow the person to have a support person present to assist at any discussions relating to dismissal’.

    This factor will only be a relevant consideration when an employee asks to have a support person present in a discussion relating to dismissal and the employer  unreasonably refuses.  It does not impose a positive obligation on employers to offer an employee the opportunity to have a support person present when they are considering dismissing them.  It will be one factor FWA must consider when determining whether a dismissal was unfair, having regard to all of the circumstances, including the capacity of the employee to respond to the allegations put to him or her without such a support person being present.


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    Craig McFadden's clear, practical counsel and strong influencing and relationship building skills have gained him credibility at both the executive and line manager level and he is frequently called on to coach managers through complex industrial relations issues, termination or redundancy matters, performance reviews or to prepare for discussions with difficult individuals and team members.

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