Interest-based consultation is a collaborative approach to workplace consultation.
On this page:
Workplace consultation happens when an employer consults with employees before making a change to their work circumstances.
An interest-based approach to consultation aims to find a solution that serves the needs (or interests) of both the employer and the affected employees.
Interest-based consultation means involving the union (if there is one) early in workplaces issues, either pre-emptively or as soon as an issue is first identified. The parties can then work together to solve the problem. Interest-based consultation can also be used to deal with longstanding or ongoing issues.
Interest-based consultation leads to better outcomes by including people who are affected by decisions in the decision-making process.
- Employers benefit because they get to listen to the views of everyone affected, gain more perspective and reach decisions with more information.
- Employees benefit because their voices are heard and they can play a role in shaping their working life.
Interest-based consultation leads to:
- more respect between management and staff
- increased understanding and acceptance of decision making
- improved relationships and communication, and
- innovative problem-solving within the workplace.
Successful interest-based consultation usually results in an agreement between parties. It can help create a productive workplace where people enjoy working.
About workplace consultation
Consultation can and should be a consistent feature of workplace engagement. All modern awards include consultation obligations. All enterprise agreements need to have a consultation clause dealing with workplace change.
Employers can choose to consult on a wide range of employment matters including:
- Changes to work practices (such as restructuring, redundancies, new policies or procedures)
- Introducing new technologies
- Health and safety
- Training initiatives
- General business processes
How to take an interest-based approach to consultation
When you’re using interest-based consultation on a proposed change, all parties need to understand what the change is.
Employers and employees then share information and discuss the merits and effects of the change together.
A successful interest-based consultation process will:
- usually be ongoing and extend to anything important at work
- often include research from both parties
- involve collaborative problem solving, and
- be flexible and responsible, or intensive when necessary.
Is interest-based consultation right for your workplace?
Employers and employees who have a good relationship should consider interest-based consultation. Interest-based approaches involve a high level of information-sharing and genuine communication, so trust and respect between the parties is important.
It is harder in workplaces where relationships are strained or where there is distrust between management and staff. However, interest-based consultation can be used to improve difficult relationships.
How to get started
Our interest-based consultation guide sets out how to adopt this approach in your workplace, including our suggested model for consulting this way.
Learn about the interest-based approach by completing our online learning modules on interest-based bargaining, available through our Online Learning Portal.
We also offer support through our Cooperative Workplaces program. The program is for workplaces that want to try interest-based approaches. A Commission Member will work with you to deliver training and help you facilitate the process. They will also offer guidance and advice as you make the change to using an interest-based approach. The program is free.