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Alternate dispute resolution
The Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992 (Seafarers Act) provides for a two tier review process where an employee is unhappy with a determination made by the employer in relation to their claim. An employee may, if they are unhappy with a determination, request a reconsideration of that determination. If they are unhappy with the reviewable decision (reconsideration), they may then lodge an application to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).
However, employers may wish to utilise alternate means of dispute resolution where appropriate. In instances where an employee disagrees with a determination or reviewable decision, employers should consider inviting the relevant parties to engage in a conversation that encourages parties to reach a negotiated agreement. Such an approach can assist in the timely and effective resolution of disputes without the necessity of having progress the matter through a formal review process.
Other benefits of this approach are:
- the process allows for disputes to be resolved in a much more timely manner than the AAT;
- there is no cost to the claimant or the agency, other than allowing the relevant parties to take part in the conversation during working hours;
- the process allows for claimants to be better informed and educated on the provisions of the Seafarers Act and to agree or disagree with any offers of settlements proposed;
- the process allows claimants to actively engage in a productive dialogue regarding an ongoing claim;
- it provides the employer the opportunity to offer alternatives and different perspectives in relation to ongoing employees and to explain their position/limitations and liability/responsibilities; and
- it allows for an employer to establish or repair rapport and relationships with employees.
It is important to note that participation in this alternate dispute resolution process does not negate an employee’s rights to initiate the formal processes of requesting a reconsideration or appeal should they wish or where an agreement is not reached.
Further information on dispute resolution can be found in the Seacare Authority’s Best Practice Guide – Claims Management.