On the day of the conference, the Agent should ensure that they meet the employer representative with adequate time to discuss any additional issues that may have arisen or clarify any concerns the employer may have.
Agents must actively participate in any discussion at the conference and review and assess new information, whether it is documentary or oral evidence.
Agents are to ensure:
- the best possible standard of representation at conciliation
- that all relevant information in its possession in a timely manner is provided before the conference. If unable to provide information before the conference reasons for non-compliance must be given
- that relevant issues raised at conciliation are the subject of meaningful discussion
- all efforts are made to resolve matters capable of resolution
- that participation in the conciliation process is quick, fair and economical for all parties involved
- that employers understand the nature of the conciliation service and the processes involved and are actively involved in the conference
- that where there is no reasonable prospect of successfully maintaining the decision should the matter to proceed to Court, that it be withdrawn or the matter resolved.
If a Conciliation Officer is recommending the resolution of a matter on the basis of new information, where necessary, Agents should request time at the conference to consider the new issues.
It may be necessary to seek a short break or have the matter stood down to discuss the appropriate response with, for example, legally qualified Agent staff. However if the matter is not capable of immediate resolution it may be necessary to request an adjournment to allow for documentation to be reviewed. The Agent may need to seek an addendum from an independent medical examiner about further medical evidence provided by the worker.
A request for adjournment must be based on a reasonable analysis of information provided at Conciliation and should only be in exceptional circumstances. The Agent advises the Conciliation Officer of the reason why further time is needed.
Medical panel referrals
Matters involving credit or causation issues should not be referred to the Medical Panel Under the legislation, unless inconsistent with the context or subject-matter — Medical Panel means a Medical Panel constituted under Division 2 of Part 12.
Agents should advise the Conciliation Officer that:
- an issue of credit or causation is involved
- the issue is a preliminary question of fact which is in dispute and should be determined/resolved before medical questions can properly be formulated
- care must be taken not to use a question about whether employment was a ‘significant contributing factor’ where the legislation does not make this a relevant test.
A Conciliation Officer has the discretion to refer a medical question to the Medical Panel.