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Navigating Job Dismissals: Unraveling Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims

Have you recently found yourself without a job under suspicious circumstances? It’s understandable to feel wronged and to contemplate legal action. In these instances, you may consider filing a claim with the Fair Work Commission. To assist you during this demanding period, we’ll break down two of the most common post-dismissal claims: unfair dismissal and general protections. Gaining an all-round knowledge of these different legal options is essential to ascertain which one aligns with your particular situation, thus increasing your probability of achieving a positive outcome.

Unearthing Unfair Dismissal Claims: Do You Qualify?

Should you find yourself out of work under conditions that you deem to be severe, unjust, or unwarranted, or if you believe there was no lawful cause for your dismissal, you might be in a position to lodge an unfair dismissal claim. However, you must first satisfy a few prerequisites:

  1. You should have been employed for at least six months (or 12 months in the case of a small business).
  2. Your employer should fall under the National System, or be governed by a modern award or enterprise agreement.
  3. Your annual income must not exceed the high-income threshold, currently marked at $167,500 as of July 1, 2023.

If these criteria match your situation and you choose to file an unfair dismissal claim, remember to lodge your application with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days from your termination date.

What Does a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim Look Like?

On winning an unfair dismissal claim, two outcomes can be expected:

  1. Reinstatement: This implies returning to your job as it was before your termination. It’s worth noting, however, that such occurrences are relatively uncommon.
  2. Monetary compensation: In cases where reinstatement isn’t practical, you could be granted compensation for lost earnings, with a maximum limit of 26 weeks’ pay. This does not include compensation for emotional anguish or pain and suffering.

Delving into General Protections Claims: How Does It Work?

If your dismissal stemmed from the exercise of a protected right or attribute under the Fair Work Act – such as age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or utilizing sick leave – you may have grounds for a general protections claim.

An advantage of general protections claims is that there’s no requirement for a minimum duration of employment to qualify. So, even if your employment was short-lived before dismissal, you can still lodge a claim if you believe your termination was for a protected reason. Similar to unfair dismissal claims, you need to lodge your application within 21 days of your dismissal.

What Can You Expect from a Successful General Protections Claim?

Much like unfair dismissal claims, winning a general protections claim could result in either reinstatement or monetary compensation. However, general protections claims offer some unique advantages:

  1. There’s no limit on the compensation you can claim, potentially surpassing the 26 weeks’ pay cap of unfair dismissal claims.
  2. You may claim compensation for non-economic damages, such as emotional distress due to the loss of employment.

Parting Thoughts

If you’ve been dismissed from your job, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims offer possible routes to legal recourse. However, understanding the substantial differences between the two can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Always consider consulting with Frontline Employment Defenders, to ensure you’re pursuing the most appropriate course of action.

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