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Navigating Post-Termination Pathways: Understanding Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims

Being subjected to an abrupt end to employment can be disorientating, more so if you deem the dismissal as unjust. If you find yourself in such a situation, taking your case to the Fair Work Commission could be a practical next step. This blog post will delve into two popular claim types—unfair dismissal and general protections—to provide you with the information you need to confidently tackle this complicated scenario. Gaining a clear understanding of these claims is fundamental in identifying the right choice for your situation, thereby increasing the chances of achieving a desirable outcome.

Demystifying Unfair Dismissal: Are You a Viable Contender?

If you’ve lost your job under circumstances that seem harsh, unjust, or unreasonable, or if you’re persuaded that your dismissal was groundless, you might be a suitable candidate for an unfair dismissal claim. This route does, however, require you to fulfill certain prerequisites:

You should have been employed for at least six months (or 12 months if your employer is a small business).

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

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

If these conditions are reflective of your situation and you opt to pursue an unfair dismissal claim, ensure that you lodge your application with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your dismissal.

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

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

Reinstatement: This means being reinstated to your job as it was before your dismissal. However, such instances are relatively scarce.

Monetary compensation: If a return to your former job is not feasible, you could be awarded compensation for lost earnings, up to a cap of 26 weeks’ pay. However, this claim does not cover emotional distress or suffering.

Deciphering General Protections Claims: What Are the Steps Involved?

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 usage of sick leave—you might be eligible to lodge a general protections claim.

One notable advantage of general protections claims is the lack of a minimum employment duration requirement. Therefore, irrespective of your employment length before dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you believe your termination was based on a protected reason. Similar to unfair dismissal claims, your application must be lodged within 21 days of your dismissal.

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

Winning a general protections claim can also lead to either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, general protections claims offer some unique advantages:

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

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

Wrapping Up

When faced with a job dismissal, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims provide potential routes to legal recourse. Recognizing the crucial differences between the two can significantly sway your case’s outcome. It’s wise to invest time in understanding both thoroughly to ensure you’re embarking on the best possible course of action for your situation.

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