A general protections conference is led by a Commission Member or staff conciliator and lasts up to 2 hours. Use these tips to help you prepare. This is an opportunity to resolve the dispute without going to court or a formal hearing.
On this page:
At least a week before a conference
A week or 2 before the conference, take time to prepare for the session. Read the information we sent you and use the contact details if you need to ask or tell us anything.
Check the date and time of the conference
Unless you ask us to change the date and time, and we agree, you must take part at the time we give you.
If you need to change the date, you must ask us in writing and give a good reason. We explain how to do this when we tell you the date. We may ask for evidence before we decide and we do not always agree to the change.
Tell us before the day if you need help
If English is not your first language, we can give you an interpreter. This is a free service.
The forms ask if you need an interpreter. If you don't tell us on your form, you need to ask for an interpreter at least 1 week before your conference. We cannot arrange an interpreter if you tell us on the day.
You can use the free National Relay Telephone service if you are living with a:
- hearing impairment
- sight impairment
- speech impairment.
Tell us if your phone number is different
The staff conciliator will call the number in your application or response form. If you change your number or you want to use a different phone, contact us as soon as possible.
Write down the main issues
You may not remember everything you want to say on the day. Make notes about the issues that are most important to you, and why. It's normal to disagree about some issues but the Commission Member or conciliator is there to help you resolve them.
Think about the outcome you want or will accept
The 2 sides can discuss and agree on almost any result in a conference.
Find out what happens in conciliation
You may be nervous if this is your first conference. Our video about conciliation will give you an example of what can happen at a conference.
Choose a quiet, private place
The phone conversation usually lasts up to 2 hours, so find a quiet place where no-one will disturb you. You need to be able to think, listen and speak openly.
Employees often take part in the conference from home.
Employers are usually at work, but in a place away from customers and other staff.
On the day of the conference
- Make sure your mobile phone battery is fully charged.
- Check for a good phone signal in the room where you will have the discussion.
- Be near the phone at the time the conference starts.
- Use the mobile phone ‘speaker’ or a hands-free phone if possible.
What to have with you
At the conference you should have with you:
- any relevant documents such as payslips, employment contract, letter of dismissal
- a copy of the submitted application and response forms
- a pen and paper so you can make notes if you want to
This will help you discuss the issue and understand what the other party is talking about. Also have a glass of water if you need it.
How to behave in the conference
It's normal to be anxious but please remember to:
- Be polite and patient.
- Listen to the other points of view without interrupting.
- Focus on the issues, not the emotions you feel or felt when the dismissal happened.
- Be flexible and prepared to negotiate, so you can avoid the delay of a formal hearing.