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Terminology

This guide includes references to 'employee grievances', 'complaints', 'conflicts' and 'disputes'. These terms may be used interchangeably.

'Grievance' is a term that has historically been applied to formal complaints by employees. It implies that the complainant has been subject to an unjust act that requires a formal response including some form of redress. It does not fit easily with alternative forms of resolution and it is not used as a preferred term in this guide.

The term 'disputes' is a general reference to open disagreement between an individual and the agency, or between colleagues. It is not intended to cover disputes arising from the interpretation of agency enterprise agreements made under the Fair Work Act 2009.

The term 'alternative dispute resolution' refers to a range of processes or techniques in which an impartial person assists those in dispute to resolve the issues between them.

At times this guide refers to alternative forms of resolution. This means informal interventions in the workplace by managers or human resource practitioners, without involving accredited alternative dispute resolution practitioners.