A conciliation is a quick and informal way that employees and employers can resolve unfair dismissal disputes. Use our tips to prepare before you take part. This is a good opportunity to avoid a formal hearing.
On this page:
At least a week before a conciliation
A week or 2 before the conciliation, 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 you know the date and time of the discussion
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.
Forms F2 for employees and F3 for employers 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 conciliation. We cannot arrange an interpreter if you tell us on the day.
You can use the free National Relay Telephone service if you:
- are deaf or have a hearing impairment
- are blind or have a sight impairment
- have a speech impairment.
Tell us if your phone number is different
When your conciliation is held by phone, the 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 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 conciliation. We show some Options at conciliation so you know what may be possible.
Find out what happens in conciliation
You may be nervous if this is your first conciliation. Complete our online learning module to learn more. See Preparing for an unfair dismissal conciliation.
Choose a quiet, private place
The phone conversation usually lasts about 90 minutes, 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 conciliation from home.
Employers are usually at work, but in a place away from customers and other staff.
On the day of the conciliation
- Make sure your device battery is fully charged.
- Check for a good a wifi or phone signal in the room where you will have the discussion.
- Be near the device at the time the conciliation starts.
- If using a phone, use the ‘speaker’ or hands-free.
What to bring
To help you discuss the issues and understand what the other party is talking about, bring:
- any relevant documents such as payslips, employment contract, letter of dismissal
- a copy of the employee’s application and the employer’s response
- a pen and paper so you can make notes if you want to
- a drink if you need it.
How to behave in the conciliation
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 or conference.