Workplace Legal Advice Program – information for employees

Some employers are eligible for free independent legal advice for workplace issues arising from the coronavirus outbreak. Read frequently asked questions about the Workplace Legal Advice Program.

Download the FAQs:

For the terms and conditions of the Workplace Legal Advice Program referral (including our Privacy Statement), go to our Workplace Legal Advice Program Terms, Conditions and Privacy Statement page.

What is the Workplace Legal Advice Program?

The Workplace Legal Advice Program provides eligible employers and employees with free independent legal help to deal with workplace issues arising from the coronavirus outbreak.

Eligible employees can get advice about issues related to their employment contract such as contractual changes to pay, hours or duties, due to the impacts of coronavirus.

Law firms with specialist workplace experience provide the advice. It is free and confidential.

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Who can access the Workplace Legal Advice Program?

Employees who contact our Coronavirus hotline or make an online enquiry through My account may be referred to the Workplace Legal Advice Program if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • the employee is an ‘eligible employee’
  • the employee’s enquiry relates to the impacts of coronavirus and the terms of their employment contract
  • the employee’s enquiry is suitable for referral, and
  • the employee is willing to participate in the Program.

We will consider your request, the eligibility criteria and the nature of your enquiry in deciding if a referral to the Workplace Legal Advice Program is appropriate. Simple enquiries that can be resolved by the advisers on our Coronavirus hotline or are addressed on our website are generally not suitable for referral.

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Am I an eligible employee?

To be eligible for the Workplace Legal Advice Program you must meet all of the following criteria:

•not be represented by a lawyer or paid agent

•be covered by the Fair Work system

•be able to provide your employer’s Australian Business Number (ABN). This can be found on your payment summary (usually available from the Australian Taxation Office through MyGov) and on your payslip

•agree to the Terms and Conditions, available at Workplace Legal Advice Program.

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What happens if I’m referred to the Workplace Legal Advice Program?

If you are referred to the Workplace Legal Advice Program, we will allocate your enquiry to one of our partner law firms and provide them with your contact details. Your enquiry reference will be your reference number.

You cannot choose your own law firm for the Workplace Legal Advice Program.

The law firm will contact you within 2 business days. To meet professional legal requirements, the law firm will provide you with a letter outlining how legal services work and information on how they can help you.

If you do not hear from the law firm please contact us through My account.

We ask that you respond to the law firm within 3 business days to tell the law firm if you agree to go ahead. If you do not respond to the law firm in that time, your appointment may be allocated to someone else.

The law firm will arrange a meeting with you by phone or video conferencing technology to discuss your enquiry. Meetings will not be held in person during coronavirus restrictions.

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Is there a limit on the advice I can get?

Yes. If you are referred to the Workplace Legal Advice Program we will pay for a fixed amount of advice. In most cases, this will be 6 hours of free advice to help you deal with the immediate issue. The law firm will let you know what your free service limit is when they contact you. This time can be used flexibly, for instance over multiple appointments.

The Workplace Legal Advice Program provides advice to employees related to employment contracts and issues arising from the coronavirus outbreak. Advice on other topics (like tax, unfair dismissal and workplace issues such as bullying) are not covered.

The Workplace Legal Advice Program does not provide ongoing legal assistance. You are not obliged to use the law firm’s services once you reach your free service limit. If you choose to access further or additional services from the firm, you will be responsible for the costs and the law firm will provide you with new information about any further work and costs.

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What do I need to prepare for my appointment?

It is important to prepare for your appointment so that you can get the most out of your free advice. Before your meeting with a lawyer, you should:

  • read the letter you receive from the law firm so you understand how they will help you
  • answer any pre-appointment questionnaires sent by the law firm and return it to them before the appointment
  • think about and briefly write down the questions you want answered. Writing down a short timeline of events may also be useful
  • gather any relevant paperwork or information so you have it handy. It will be useful for the law firm to have a copy of your most recent payment summary (usually available from the Australian Taxation Office through MyGov), your employment contract, any variations to the contract, an example pay slip and a copy of any correspondence between you and your employer regarding the issue.
  • tell us if you need an interpreter for your appointment.

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Is the advice I get confidential?

Yes. Any legal advice you receive from a lawyer is confidential and covered by legal professional privilege. We will not get a copy, or summary, of the advice provided to you. Sharing the advice may waive your legal professional privilege and the confidentiality of the legal advice.

We will collect information from participating law firms to:

  • confirm that services were provided for the purpose of payment
  • improve the referral process and service offering
  • identify common themes and frequently asked questions – this de-identified data will be used to understand and address gaps in our information and resources.

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Can I access the Workplace Legal Advice Program more than once?

Employees who have been referred to the Workplace Legal Advice Program can usually only access the Workplace Legal Advice Program once.

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I need more help, what do I do?

For further assistance, you may wish to separately engage a law firm or seek assistance from a community legal centre, or join a union.

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How will the FWO handle my information?

The FWO is committed to protecting your privacy, and will handle your information as set out in the ‘Terms and Conditions of Workplace Legal Advice Program referral’ and ‘Privacy Statement - Referral to external law firm’. These documents are available at Workplace Legal Advice Program.

For more information on how the FWO protects your privacy, please visit our Privacy page.

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How do I provide feedback on the Workplace Legal Advice Program?

We will routinely survey users of the Workplace Legal Advice Program to seek feedback on their experience. If you wish to provide additional feedback, please visit our Feedback page.

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