Work complaints and QIRC fact sheet

Work matters and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission's jurisdiction under anti-discrimination law

Queensland Industrial Relations CommissionDownload the Work complaints and the QIRC fact sheet for printing (PDF File, 163.8 KB) .

What this fact sheet is about

This fact sheet is about referral of work-related matters from the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) following the commencement of the Industrial Relations Act 2016 (the IR Act) on 1 March 2017.

The IR Act made changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (ADA) so that unresolved work-related matters in the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) may be referred to the QIRC for hearing and determination. Work-related matters are no longer referred to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).

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A work-related matter includes complaints that allege discrimination, sexual harassment, or other contraventions of the ADA that happened at work. This includes:

  • discrimination at work;
  • discrimination when applying for work;
  • victimisation by an employer;
  • requesting and encouraging discrimination at work;
  • requesting unnecessary information at work or when applying for work;
  • sexual harassment at work;
  • vilification that occurred at work or when applying for work.

Public interest disclosure reprisals when at work are also work-related matters.

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Yes; all discrimination complaints are made to the ADCQ . The ADCQ tries to resolve complaints of discrimination through conciliation. If a complaint is not resolved at conciliation, the complaint may be referred to:

  • QIRC for work-related matters; or
  • QCAT for all other matters

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What happens to other discrimination complaints?

Unresolved discrimination complaints that do not relate to work will continue to be referred to QCAT . This includes allegations of discrimination, sexual harassment, vilification and victimisation in the areas of:

  • education;
  • goods and services;
  • superannuation;
  • insurance;
  • disposal of land;
  • accommodation;
  • club membership and affairs;
  • local government.

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What happens if a complaint is about both work-related and non-work related matters?

If an unresolved complaint includes both work-related matters and matters that do not relate to work, the complaint is referred to the QIRC .

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When do the changes commence?

The changes commenced from 1 March 2017. Work-related complaints, applications or other proceedings made or started under the ADA on or after 1 March 2017 are referred to the QIRC .

Further, complaints made prior to 1 March 2017, but accepted by the ADCQ on or after 1 March 2017 are referred to QIRC .

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What does accepted mean?

This is the decision made by the ADCQ that the complaint meets the following requirements set out in section 136 of the ADA :

  • It is in writing.
  • It sets out reasonably sufficient details to indicate an alleged contravention of the Act.
  • It states the complainant's address for service.
  • It is lodged with the ADCQ.

The parties are promptly notified in writing of the decision to accept a complaint.

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Who hears and determines work-related matters already at QCAT before 1 March 2017?

In the transitional period, QCAT will continue to decide work-related matters on hand. These are the matters that have been accepted by the ADCQ prior to 1 March 2017.

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Who decides where the complaint is to be referred to?

The ADCQ will decide where to refer the complaint based on all of the above considerations. If the receiving tribunal decides they are not the appropriate tribunal, they can make orders to transfer the complaint to the other tribunal.

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Will QIRC decide applications for exemptions?

Yes, work-related applications for exemptions from the operation of specified provisions of the ADA will be made directly to the QIRC .

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What happens after a complaint is referred to QIRC ?

The ADCQ will provide a copy of the complaint documents to the QIRC . The QIRC will inform the parties of the next steps.

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Are there appeal rights from a QIRC discrimination decision?

Yes. In most cases appeals can be made to the Industrial Court of Queensland, and then to the Queensland Court of Appeal. The parties have strict time frames once the decision is communicated to them in which to lodge an appeal. Parties should seek urgent legal advice if they wish to appeal a QIRC decision.

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For more information, contact the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland.

Phone: 1300 130 670

Fax: (07) 3247 0960



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This information is a guide only and is not a substitute for legal advice.  For more     information contact the Commission on 1300 130 670 statewide or TTY 1300 130 680 statewide.

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