Should I seek advice?
If possible, you should seek advice from Avant or another advisor (such
as the Australian Medical Association or your union) before attending
You can seek advice even if your employer says the matter is confidential
and you should not speak with anyone about it.
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, your employer
can direct you to attend a meeting. Such a direction is likely to be
lawful and reasonable. If you do not comply, you could be subject to
You are not obliged to attend a meeting at the time requested by your
employer if it is not possible for you to attend at that time (for example,
you are sick, your support person is unavailable or you will not have
enough time to review relevant documents). In this case, you should
request a reasonable adjournment of the meeting time.
In some cases, it might be better to respond in writing to matters rather
than attend a meeting to respond to those matters. This is something
your advisor can speak with you about.
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.
I have been asked to attend a meeting in 15 minutes.
What should I do?
You should ask what the meeting is about and who will be attending.
Often, the person who has asked you to attend the meeting will not
know what the meeting is about or will not tell you.
You should attend the meeting but ‘just listen’. You should not answer
any questions. You should take a copy of any letter handed to you but
not comment about it.
You should then immediately call Avant or another workplace advisor.
What should I do to prepare for a meeting when I have
enough notice of the meeting?
Write out your version of events and refer to it during the meeting if you
need to. Consider whether you should provide a written response to
your employer in addition to a verbal response during the meeting. Your
written response will often clarify matters and shorten the time taken in
Ask Avant to review your version of events to ensure your interests
are protected. Consider what other processes may be happening in
relation to the same issues (for example, legal proceedings or a medical
board investigation). You should ensure your responses in all areas
are consistent and considered. Review your contract of employment,
award, agreement or relevant policies to understand the process you are
involved in and what to expect. Seek advice if you want to.
Do I have to answer questions at the meeting?
Your employer cannot generally require you to answer questions during
a meeting. Your employer is required to give you an opportunity to
respond to a matter before it makes a decision about your employment.
If you choose not to respond, your employer may make a decision
having regard only to the information available.
If you do not wish to answer a question for a particular reason (for
example, you have not reviewed the relevant documents), you should
explain why you cannot answer the question and explain when you will
be in a position to answer the question (for example, after reviewing the
If the matter may potentially have criminal or other serious
consequences for you (for example, medical registration issues), you
should seek legal advice before answering any questions. You may be
able to claim privilege against self incrimination.
Can the meeting be recorded by either party?
In each state, there is legislation which deals with recording discussions
and the use that may be made of those recordings. Unfortunately, the
legislation in each state is different. In some states, a discussion can only be
recorded with the consent of all parties to the discussion. In other states
the consent of the other parties attending the meeting is not required.
You should ideally request permission to record the meeting if you wish
to do so.
If your employer is recording the meeting, you should ask for a copy of
your employer’s recording and a copy of the transcript if any is made.
If the meeting is being recorded, you should exercise extra caution
about what you say.
Given modern technology, it is prudent to assume all meetings you
attend are being recorded.
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. The role of the support person
is to provide support to you during the meeting. Their role is not to
represent you, advocate on your behalf or to speak for you. You should
check what the relevant award, agreement or policy says about a
support person. There may be limitations on who your support person
can be. For example:
- often a lawyer is unable to act as a support person (although they
can provide you with advice prior to the meeting)
- sometimes only a co-worker can be a support person
- generally, you have no right to a specific support person. This can
be relevant when your chosen support person is on extended leave
and unable to attend a meeting. Your employer can require that
another support person attend the meeting.
Choose your support person carefully, having regard to the matters to
be discussed during the meeting. You can consult with your support
person during the meeting if you wish.
Some interviewers will allow a representative from Avant to attend if
asked ‘nicely’, even though they are not compelled to do so.
Can my employer have more than one person at
Yes. Your employer may have more than one person present at the
meeting. It is common for a ‘note taker’ to attend a meeting with
Can I take a break during the meeting?
Yes. You can request a break at any time during the meeting.
How should I respond to questions during the meeting?
- If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know. Don’t guess
- Keep your answers short and concise (for example, say ‘yes’ or ‘no’
and go no further).
- Do not volunteer information.
- Be accurate.
- Do not exaggerate.
- State the basis for your comments if relevant (for example, ‘I
observed …’ or ‘I heard …’ or ‘Dr X told me that …’ or ‘I measured the
heart rate by x and recorded it to be y’).
- Do not agree with something unless you know it to be true from
your own direct observations.
- Do not speculate (for example, ‘He may have done that because …’).
If asked to speculate, it is OK to say you don’t know.
- If you think there is a record relevant to what you are being asked,
request a copy of it (for example, time sheets, clinical records,
appointment diaries showing failures to attend).
- You should not answer the question without first reviewing
- 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
What other matters should I consider during the meeting?
- Try not to get angry or emotional during the meeting. Request a
break if you feel yourself getting angry or emotional.
- 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?).
What should i do after the meeting?
- As soon as possible after the meeting, make a file note of the matters
discussed during the meeting.
- Follow up on any matters you promised to address during the
meeting (for example, you may have promised a further response
once you had reviewed relevant records).
- You can ask for a copy of the notes taken by the interviewer during
the meeting to enable you to review them and amend where you
don’t agree they are an accurate reflection of events. In general, the
interviewer is not required to provide you with a copy of their notes.
You should check the relevant policy or procedure if you are unsure.
- You can ask what information, if any, will be placed on your
- You may provide a written response to issues discussed during the
meeting and ask for it to be placed on your personnel file.
- You may 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.
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. Subject to relevant policy requirements,
you are not obliged to do so. 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 the statement is an accurate record of the meeting. If not,
make necessary amendments
- indicate you are signing it as an accurate record of the meeting,
but you do not necessarily agree with the content of the matters
discussed a disciplinary, performance management or other
This publication is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal or medical advice. You should seek legal or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practise proper clinical decision-making with regard to the individual
circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance
with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. © Avant Mutual Group Limited 2015. 1221 04/17 (0804)