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How to Navigate Unfair Dismissal Claims as an Australian Employee

In a perfect world, job termination would be a mutual and amicable event. But when this isn’t the case, ex-employees may feel they have the right to lodge an unfair dismissal claim. In Australia, such claims are handled by the Fair Work Commission, and can potentially have significant financial implications for your former employer. So, let’s take a look at what to expect should you find yourself contemplating this course of action.

Unfair dismissal transpires when an employer terminates an employee’s contract in a manner that is deemed harsh, unjust, or unreasonable. If you believe you’ve been unfairly dismissed, the first port of call is lodging an application for conciliation with the Fair Work Commission.

However, if conciliation fails to resolve the dispute, the matter is passed on to a Commission Member and may be escalated to a formal hearing. But what transpires if the Commission finds that your dismissal was indeed unjust, wasn’t a genuine redundancy, or failed to adhere to the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code (if your employer is a small business)?

In such cases, the Commission may opt for one of three possible outcomes:

  1. The Commission makes no order;
  2. The Commission orders your reinstatement, essentially giving you your job back, or
  3. The Commission orders the employer to pay compensation.

The costs involved in this process can vary considerably, and largely hinge on the specific details of your case. Factors such as the wages you would have earned if not for your dismissal (referred to as remuneration), any wages or income you’ve earned since your dismissal (deductions), and any compensation for shock, distress, hurt, or humiliation could be taken into account.

Costs of representation are another important factor to consider. While you can seek advice or representation during the unfair dismissal process, generally you’ll need to cover your own costs, even if you win the case. In exceptional circumstances, you might be able to claim for costs to be covered by your former employer.

Call Frontline Employment Defenders Now so we can help you 1300 089 353 or visit

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