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Deciphering the Ins and Outs of General Protections Claim

Understanding one’s rights in a work environment is vital, and one such right is the General Protections Claim, as defined under the Fair Work Act 2009. This statute effectively bars any adverse action against an individual on the grounds of their workplace rights, or the actual or intended exercise of these rights.

Defining Workplace Right

A ‘workplace right’ is a broad term that includes various facets. It encompasses rights and entitlements stemming from a workplace law or an instrument such as an award or enterprise agreement. Moreover, it involves the capability to kick-start a proceeding under a workplace law or instrument or the right to lodge a complaint or make an inquiry regarding one’s employment.

Delving into Adverse Action

Adverse action is an action that adversely impacts an employee. It can manifest in multiple ways, such as dismissing or refusing to employ an individual, practicing discrimination, or harming them in their employment, such as by demotion or cutting down on overtime or regular work hours.

Getting to Grips with a General Protections Claim

A General Protections dispute arises when an adverse action is taken or threatened because of a person exercising or intending to exercise a workplace right. As an illustration, if an employee is dismissed due to their temporary illness leave and can demonstrate that this was the reason for their dismissal, they may allege a violation of general protections provisions. Yet, it’s important to remember that dismissal during temporary leave due to illness does not automatically equate to a violation of general protections provisions.

Therefore, it becomes critical to demonstrate a correlation between the adverse action and the workplace right. Notably, General Protections Claims are not confined to current employees but also extend to prospective employees, independent contractors, and those who have entered into a service contract.

Typically, such disputes occur between an employee and their employer. Employees who suspect their dismissal is associated with a workplace right must lodge a General Protections Claim within 21 days from the date of dismissal. Importantly, there are no constraints concerning qualifying periods or pay ceilings for General Protections Claims, which means these protections come into play from the outset of an employee’s employment, and in some cases, even before that, regardless of their remuneration.

Wrapping Up

While there are no restrictions on an employer taking adverse action against an employee, they must ensure there is no linkage between that action and an employee’s workplace right, whether it has been exercised or is intended to be exercised. If any action on the employer’s part results in a disadvantage to the employee (such as dismissal, demotion, or reduction in pay/bonuses), it’s critical to make sure there is no association with a workplace right.

Being aware of the dynamics of General Protections Claims can enable individuals to safeguard their rights in the workplace, thereby fostering a balanced, fair, and respectful work environment for all.

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