The Fair Work Commission has established a Paid Agents Working Group. The new working group will be led by President Hatcher and made up of senior Commission Members and senior members of staff.
Background to the establishment of the group
People involved in matters before the Commission can be represented by a lawyer or paid agent, subject to permission requirements in the Fair Work Act 2009 being met. Lawyers are required to be admitted to the legal profession and are subject to regulation of their qualifications, conduct, ethics and financial dealings. There are no qualification requirements for paid agents, nor are they subject to any professional scheme that regulates their conduct.
At times, concerns are raised about the conduct of paid agents involved in matters before the Commission. These concerns usually arise in individual dispute matters, where parties may be vulnerable or at a particularly difficult point in their lives due to job loss or other factors. They may have limited ability or resources to address the concerns themselves.
Purpose of the Paid Agents Working Group
The new working group will seek to identify and guide the implementation of measures aimed at ensuring that all paid agents appearing before the Commission:
- conduct themselves in an ethical and honest manner
- act in the best interests of the parties they represent, and
- generally operate in accordance with standards that are broadly consistent with what would be expected of a lawyer in the same circumstances.
The working group will consult with regular representatives involved in individual dispute matters before the Commission, as well as with law societies, peak bodies, and other interested parties.