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Decoding Unfair Dismissal and General Protections

Experiencing an abrupt end to employment can be highly disruptive, especially if you suspect the move was unjust. If you’re in this predicament, the Fair Work Commission could be your key to seeking retribution. This blog post aims to simplify two commonly pursued claim types—unfair dismissal and general protections—to equip you with the knowledge necessary to chart your course in this complex situation. Getting to grips with these claims is pivotal in determining the best route that aligns with your situation and enhances the likelihood of winning your case.

Decoding Unfair Dismissal: Are You a Suitable Candidate?

If you find yourself unemployed due to circumstances that seem harsh, unjust, or unreasonable, or if you believe that your termination lacked valid grounds, you might be eligible to file an unfair dismissal claim. Nevertheless, you’d need to satisfy certain conditions:

You should have been employed for a minimum period of six months (or 12 months if it’s a small business).

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

Your annual income must not go beyond the high-income threshold, currently set at $167,500 (as of July 1, 2023).

If these conditions mirror your situation and you choose to file an unfair dismissal claim, remember to submit your application to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your dismissal.

The Aftermath of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What Lies Ahead?

On winning an unfair dismissal claim, you can anticipate one of two outcomes:

Reinstatement: This means being reabsorbed into your previous position, as it was before your dismissal. However, such outcomes are relatively uncommon.

Financial compensation: If returning to your job isn’t an option, you could receive compensation for lost earnings, with a cap of 26 weeks’ pay. Note that this claim does not compensate for emotional distress or suffering.

Dissecting General Protections Claims: What’s the Process?

If your dismissal was based on the exercise of a protected right or attribute under the Fair Work Act—including age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or use of sick leave—you may be eligible to file a general protections claim.

A standout benefit of general protections claims is the lack of a minimum employment duration requirement. Therefore, irrespective of your employment tenure prior to dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you feel your termination was due to a protected reason. As with unfair dismissal claims, your application must be lodged within 21 days of your dismissal.

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

Success in a general protections claim can lead to either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, general protections claims offer some unique benefits:

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

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

Summing Up

When dealing with job termination, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims provide potential avenues for legal restitution. Understanding the critical differences between the two can significantly impact your case’s resolution. It’s always advisable to consult with Frontline Employment Defenders, to ensure you’re steering towards the most beneficial course of action.

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