Apprentices and trainees

SAET resolves disputes between employers and apprentices or trainees related to their contracts or working conditions.

Either party to a training contract can make an application to SAET if there is a dispute between the parties, or one of the parties has a grievance.

SAET deals with:

  • disputes between parties to a training contract, such as when completion papers haven’t been signed or TAFE fees are not paid
  • a grievance by one party to the training contract about the conduct of the other party
  • the suspension of an apprentice or trainee on the grounds of serious and wilful misconduct (only if mediation by the Office of the SA Skills Commission doesn’t resolve the matter)

Who is involved?

Apprentices, trainees, employees and employers can make an application to review a suspension under the South Australian Skills Act SA 2008.

Different claims have different time limits for making an application.

If you are a trainee and have a dispute or grievance about your training contract, you should apply during your contract or within six months of its completion.

If an employer suspends an apprentice or trainee for alleged serious and wilful misconduct, the employer must notify SAET and the Office of the SA Skills Commission as soon as practicable. If the suspension is unable to be resolved by mediation by the Office of the SA Skills Commission, the employer must, as soon as is reasonably practicable after the conclusion of the mediation (but in any event within 3 days), refer the matter to SAET for consideration. SAET will organise a compulsory conciliation conference.

 What can I expect?

SAET will notify the parties to the training contract of the date, time and venue of the conciliation conference and provide a copy of the application and any attachments to the respondent.

For disputes and grievances, the respondent will be asked to provide a response, setting out their side of the issue, to SAET before the conciliation conference.

Only parties directly connected to the matter may attend: the apprentice or trainee, the employer, a representative of the Office of the SA Skills Commission, and the apprentice or trainee’s parent or guardian if they are a party to the training contract.

Can I bring a lawyer or representative?

There are restrictions on who can represent a party.

A company may be represented by an officer or employee of the company who is not a lawyer or registered agent. At the first conference, permission should be sought from SAET.

If the SAET member is satisfied that a party would be disadvantaged if they were not allowed to be represented, representation may be allowed, although not by a lawyer, registered agent or someone acting for a fee. However the Office of the SA Skills Commission may represent any party.

The member may allow others to participate or observe, after considering the views of all the parties. Support persons may be permitted if they do not intervene in proceedings.


Please obtain the relevant form(s) via the SAET Forms page.

What happens if conciliation fails?

The SAET member will assess the merits of the issue and explain this assessment in writing. SAET may recommend how to resolve the dispute, while presenting possible outcomes if the matter proceeds to a hearing.

If an applicant wishes to proceed to a hearing, the case is referred to another SAET member. A directions conference will be staged to set the hearing dates and deal with any matters about procedure. The SAET member may direct parties to provide written confirmation of their position on the matter in dispute, and to provide the other party with a list of all relevant documents in their possession.

Is there a cost?


Where can I find more information?

If you need help about your dispute or contractual issue, you may wish to seek advice from a union, employee association or lawyer.

Office of the South Australian Skills Commission
Toll Free Phone 1800 006 488
GPO Box 320, Adelaide, South Australia 5001