- Find out as much information as you can and come prepared
- If possible, bring a support person
- Take notes of what occurred either during or immediately following the discussion
Preparing for the meeting
Can I seek advice?
Yes. You can seek advice from Avant or another representative
such as the AMA or your union, even if you are told you must keep
the matter confidential and you should not speak with anyone
If the matter may have criminal or other serious consequences
for you (for example, medical registration issues), seek legal
advice before answering any questions. You may be able to claim
privilege against self-incrimination.
Do I have to attend the meeting?
Generally, yes. Your employer can ask you to attend a meeting to
discuss matters related to your employment. If you do not agree
to attend, your employer can direct you to attend a meeting and
you could be subject to disciplinary action if you do not comply.
However, you may be able to negotiate the time or format of the
In some cases, it might be better to ask to postpone the meeting
if you do not know what the meeting is about, if it is not possible
to attend at the requested time, or if you do not have enough
time to prepare. It may be better to respond in writing rather than
attend a meeting.
What should I know about the meeting before I attend?
You should know:
- what the meeting is about
- who will be at the meeting
- where and when the meeting will be held
- whether you can bring a support person (see below for further
- whether there are any documents relevant to the matters to be
discussed at the meeting. If so, you should request a copy of
You can request that this information is provided to you in writing.
If the meeting is part of an investigation (especially if you are the subject
of the investigation), you can also request:
- the terms of reference for the investigation, including information
about the investigator’s role
- a copy of the policies and guidelines to be followed in conducting
- a copy of the policies and guidelines alleged to have been breached.
What else can I do to prepare?
You may wish to write out your version of events. You can take this
to the meeting to refresh your memory, but your employer may
ask for you to provide a copy at the end of the meeting.
You may need access to patient records or other documents to
prepare. If you do not have access to these materials, seek advice
about obtaining access.
Ask Avant or other adviser to review your version of events to
ensure your interests are protected.
Review your contract of employment, award, agreement or
relevant policies to understand the process you are involved in
and what to expect.
Attending the meeting
Do I have to answer questions at the meeting?
Generally, no. Your employer must give you an opportunity to
respond to a matter before they make a decision, but you can
choose not to respond. In that case your employer may make a
decision without your version of events.
If you have not had prior notice of the issues that you are being
asked about and you wish to seek advice before answering, or you
need to review documents before responding, you should explain
why you cannot answer at that time and say that you will be in a
position to answer the questions after considering your response
or reviewing the relevant information.
In some cases, it may be prudent to ask the investigator to confirm
their concerns in writing so that you can respond in writing.
Can the meeting be recorded?
The answer to this question is different in each state and territory,
as they all have different legislation dealing with recording
discussions and the use that may be made of those recordings.
If your employer is recording the meeting, ask for a copy of your
employer’s recording and a copy of any transcript.
Given modern technology, it is prudent to assume all meetings
you attend are being recorded and always exercise caution about
what you say.
Can I have a support person at the meeting?
As a general rule, you are entitled to have a support person with
you at any meeting with your employer. Their role is to support you
during the meeting but not to represent you, advocate on your
behalf or to speak for you. You can consult with them during the
meeting if you wish and you can ask them to take notes for you.
However, check what the relevant award, agreement or policy
says as there may be limitations on who your support person can
be. For example, sometimes only a co-worker can be a support
person. The aim of most employment meetings is to resolve
an issue that has arisen so that the parties can continue their
employment relationship. Having lawyers present at the meeting
can unnecessarily escalate issues. For this reason, we generally
recommend against lawyers being support people particularly in
the preliminary stages of an inquiry.
Generally, you have no right to a specific support person. If your
chosen support person is not available your employer can require
that another support person attend the meeting.
How should I respond to questions during the
Listen carefully to the question and only answer the question that
has been asked. Do not volunteer information.
Keep your answers short and concise (for example, say “yes” or
“no” and go no further).
Never guess an answer. If you don’t know the answer, say you
don’t know. If you can’t remember, say that you can’t remember.
If there is something that might help you to remember (for
example, referring to your diary about the date of a relevant
meeting), you can say so. If you don’t understand the question,
ask for it to be repeated or rephrased.
If you think there is a document relevant to what you are being
asked (for example, time sheets, clinical records, appointment
diaries), request a copy of it. Don’t answer the question without
first reviewing the document. If you need to review a patient’s
record to refresh your memory about why you made a clinical
decision, then request the time and opportunity to do so –
somewhere quiet without interruption or pressure.
If you give a response about something you did not hear or see
directly, you should make that clear (for example, Dr Smith told
me that …). Do not speculate (for example, “he may have done
that because …”).
What other matters should I consider during the
- Try not to get angry or emotional during the meeting.
Request a break if needed.
- Make appropriate considered concessions.
- You can take notes during the meeting if you wish.
- You can ask questions about the process (for example, what
will be the next step, when will a decision be made, what are
the possible outcomes of the process).
After the meeting
As soon as possible after the meeting, make a note of the issues
discussed. Follow up on anything you promised to address (for
example, you may have promised a further response once you
have reviewed relevant records). You can ask for a copy of the
notes taken by the interviewer during the meeting, however they
are not required to provide them. If you are given a copy you may
review them and amend where you think they are inaccurate.
You can ask what information, if any, will be placed on your
personnel file. You can provide a written response to issues
discussed during the meeting and ask for it to be placed on your
You may also wish to send an email to the interviewer
confirming the matters discussed during the meeting,
particularly if the interviewer made verbal concessions during
the meeting. You can also request that a copy of this email is
added to your personnel file.
Do I have to sign a statement following the meeting?
The interviewer may ask you to sign a statement they have
prepared following the meeting. Unless your hospital policy
requires it, you are not obliged to sign. The statement can be
placed on your personnel file even if you do not sign it. If you wish
to sign the statement, you should confirm it is an accurate record
of the meeting. If not, make necessary amendments. If necessary,
indicate you are signing it as an accurate record of the meeting
but that you do not necessarily agree with the content of the
Where can I get advice or support?
As an Avant member, you can access our ongoing support if
you are undergoing a disciplinary process or other matter. It is
important to realise the stress such an event may generate and
to have good support systems in place.
Links to a range of support services can be found on
Avant’s website under Health and Wellbeing: