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Charting Your Course After Job Termination: A Thorough Breakdown of Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims

Encountering a sudden termination of employment can be a challenging ordeal, particularly if it feels unjustified. If you find yourself in such circumstances, considering an appeal to the Fair Work Commission might be the next logical step. In this blog, we aim to simplify two common claim categories—unfair dismissal and general protections—to arm you with the essential knowledge you need to effectively handle this tricky situation. Getting to grips with these claims is key to identifying the right one for your unique circumstances, thereby increasing the chances of a favourable resolution.

Unfair Dismissal Uncovered: Do You Qualify?

If you’ve lost your job under circumstances that appear harsh, unjust, or unreasonable, or if you’re certain that your dismissal was not based on valid grounds, you may be eligible to lodge an unfair dismissal claim. However, this route requires you to meet specific prerequisites:

You need to have been employed for at least six months (or 12 months if it’s a small business employer).

Your employer must fall under the National System or be governed by a modern award or enterprise agreement.

Your annual earnings should not exceed the high-income threshold, which currently stands at $167,500 (as of July 1, 2023).

If these conditions align with your situation and you decide to file an unfair dismissal claim, remember to submit your application to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days from your termination date.

The Outcome of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What Can You Expect?

Should your unfair dismissal claim succeed, you can expect one of two outcomes:

Reinstatement: This means returning to your job as it was before your dismissal. However, such occurrences are relatively infrequent.

Monetary compensation: If reinstatement is not an option, you could be awarded compensation for lost earnings, capped at 26 weeks’ pay. However, this claim does not provide compensation for emotional distress or suffering.

Delving Into General Protections Claims: How Does it Work?

If your dismissal resulted from exercising a protected right or attribute under the Fair Work Act—such as age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or utilising sick leave—you might be in a position to file a general protections claim.

A noteworthy advantage of general protections claims is that there’s no requirement for minimum employment duration. Thus, regardless of the length of your employment prior to dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you believe your termination was due to a protected reason. Like unfair dismissal claims, you must lodge your application within 21 days of your dismissal.

The Reward of a Successful General Protections Claim: What Awaits You?

A successful general protections claim can also result in either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, general protections claims come with some unique benefits:

There’s no limit on the compensation you can claim, potentially surpassing the 26 weeks’ pay cap associated with unfair dismissal claims.

You can claim compensation for non-economic damages, such as emotional distress resulting from the job loss.

In Conclusion

When faced with a job dismissal, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims provide potential pathways to legal remedies. Understanding the primary differences between these two can significantly affect the outcome of your case. Hence, it’s prudent to thoroughly familiarise yourself with both to ensure you’re taking the best possible course of action tailored to your situation.

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