We will be piloting new virtual conference technology in some staff led conciliations and conferences. The new technology has the potential to provide a more user-friendly experience by streamlining the conciliation and conference process. The pilot will start from Thursday 28 September 2023 and run for about 1 month.
The current conciliation model has been in place since 2009. In that time, we have conducted most staff led conciliations and conferences by phone. The current process requires staff conciliators to dial parties and representatives into a conference or conciliation. Last financial year alone, more than 13,000 staff led conciliations and conferences were held, most by phone. The new technology has the potential to improve the process for parties and representatives.
Benefits of the new technology
The new technology is a Microsoft product called Advanced Virtual Appointments. It enables us to send parties a link to the conciliation or conference. This will provide users with a modern experience like joining an online meeting or webinar. There will be some benefits to using this technology:
- Users will no longer need to wait for a conciliator to call them, they can simply join the conciliation or conference at the allocated time and wait in the virtual lobby for the Conciliator to admit them.
- Parties and their representatives will be placed in virtual rooms when shuttle negotiations begin rather than being disconnected from the call.
- Parties and their representatives can discuss the case in the virtual room in private without needing to call each other separately.
How the pilot will work
We will start allocating unfair dismissal and general protections cases to the pilot at random from Thursday 21 September 2023. The conciliation or conference for these cases will be scheduled during the pilot period which commences Thursday 28 September.
In pilot cases, the parties will receive a different notice of listing with instructions on how to join their virtual conciliation or conference. We will send a Microsoft Teams invite (with the link) 3 days prior to the scheduled conciliation or conference. The parties can simply click the link in the invite to join the virtual meeting at the allocated time.
The conciliation or conference remains private and confidential. Although we will be using virtual meeting technology, the meeting itself is audio only, just like a phone call and not recorded in any way.
Regular users and representatives
If you use our services regularly, it is possible that you will be involved in both processes through the pilot period. We encourage you to read your notice of listing closely. The notice will explain whether you need to join via a link or whether you will need to provide you phone number to be called by a staff conciliator.
What to do if you cannot access the technology
We are committed to providing access to justice to all people who access our services. If you cannot use the new technology for any reason, please contact us as soon as possible. Our staff conciliators will be able to dial you in by phone if we are given enough notice.
The pilot is an example of our ongoing commitment to improving service delivery through digital transformation. If it is successful, we will introduce the new technology in all staff led conciliations and conferences over the coming months.