Workplace Legal Advice Program – information for employees

Updated 8 September 2021

Some employees are eligible for free independent legal advice for workplace issues they’re experiencing arising from the COVID-19 pandemic from our Workplace Legal Advice Program.

Accessing the program

Eligible employees can access the program by:

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for the Workplace Legal Advice Program you have to meet eligibility criteria including:

  • you’re not represented by a lawyer or paid agent
  • you’re covered by the Fair Work system
  • your enquiry relates to workplace impacts of COVID-19 and is suitable for referral
  • you’re 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 pay slip
  • you agree to the Terms and Conditions, available at Workplace Legal Advice Program.

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The referral process

We’ll consider your request, the eligibility criteria and the nature of your enquiry to decide if referring you to the Workplace Legal Advice Program is appropriate.

If we refer you to the program, we’ll email you information about the program and its terms and conditions. We’ll also give you a reference number and allocate your enquiry to one of our partner law firms. You can’t choose your own law firm. We’ll provide the law firm with your contact details and your reference number. The law firm should then contact you within 4 business days.

If you don’t hear from the law firm in that time, please contact us by making an online enquiry through My account.

To meet professional legal requirements, the law firm will provide you with a letter explaining how legal services work and information on how they can help you.

You’ll have 3 business days to tell the law firm if you agree to go ahead. If you don’t respond to the law firm in time, your appointment may be allocated to someone else.

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

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Limits of the program

The program only provides employees with advice that relates to:

  • the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on issues such as changes to pay, hours, duties or location of work under their employment contract
  • stand downs from work
  • an issue about a COVID-19 vaccination requirement in their workplace that affects them directly.

The advice is tailored to a particular situation, may not apply more broadly and won’t cover other topics like tax, unfair dismissal and workplace issues that aren’t related to coronavirus (such as bullying).

We’ll pay for a fixed amount of advice

We’ll cover the cost of up to 6 hours of free advice to help you deal with your immediate issue depending on the complexity. The law firm will let you know what your free service limit is when they contact you. You can use this time all in one appointment or over multiple appointments.

The program doesn’t provide ongoing legal assistance

You’re not obliged to use the law firm’s services once you reach your free service limit. If you choose to access further services from the firm, you’ll be responsible for the costs and the law firm will provide you with new information about any further work and costs.

You can usually only access the program once

In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible for an employee to access the program again. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as whether there is a new issue that has emerged since the first appointment.

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Preparing for your appointment

It’s important to prepare for your appointment so that you get the most out of your free advice. Before your appointment, you should:

  • read the letter you receive from the law firm so you understand how they can help you
  • answer any pre-appointment questionnaire sent by the law firm and return it to them before the appointment
  • briefly write down any questions you have or any timeline of events that might be important
  • tell the law firm if you need an interpreter for your appointment.

You should also gather any relevant paperwork or information, including:

  • your most recent payment summary (usually available from the Australian Taxation Office through MyGov)
  • your employment contract and any variations to it
  • some recent pay slips
  • copies of any correspondence between you and your employer about the issue.

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Privacy

Any legal advice you receive from a lawyer is private and confidential. The advice is covered by legal professional privilege, which means they aren't able to disclose it. We won’t get a copy or summary of the advice provided to you. If you share the advice, you may waive your legal professional privilege and the confidentiality of the legal advice.

We collect information from participating law firms to:

  • confirm that they provided the services 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.

We’re committed to protecting your privacy. We handle your information as set out in the terms and conditions of the Workplace Legal Advice Program referral and privacy statement.

For more information on how we protect your privacy, please visit Privacy.

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Further help

For further help, you can:

  • engage a law firm
  • seek assistance from a community legal centre
  • talk to or join a union.

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Providing feedback on the program

We routinely survey users of the program to seek feedback on their experience. If you’d like to provide additional feedback, you can use our Feedback form.

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