Have you been terminated from your job and feel it was unjust? If so, you might be considering lodging a claim with the Fair Work Commission. Here, we’ll delve into two common types of claims that can be pursued if you’ve been dismissed from your job: unfair dismissal claims and general protections claims. Understanding the subtle nuances between these two legal routes can play a pivotal role in helping you decide which course of action best suits your circumstance, and hence, enables you to achieve the most favorable outcome.
Unraveling Unfair Dismissal Claims: When Can You Lodge One?
You might be eligible for an unfair dismissal claim if you were let go from your job under circumstances you deem harsh, unjust, or unreasonable. Perhaps your employer had no valid cause to terminate you, or you were given no chance to respond to the reasons laid out for your dismissal.
Before you make an unfair dismissal claim, there are several prerequisites to meet:
- You must have been employed for a minimum of six months (or 12 months for a small business employer).
- Your employer must fall under the National System or be governed by a modern award or enterprise agreement.
- Your annual earnings should be less than the high-income threshold, which as of this writing is $167,500 (adjusted annually on July 1, 2023).
If you meet these criteria and decide to pursue an unfair dismissal claim, make sure to lodge your application with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days from your dismissal date.
Possible Outcomes of an Unfair Dismissal Claim
In the event of a successful unfair dismissal claim, you may be entitled to:
- Reinstatement: This involves being restored to your original position prior to dismissal, although it’s worth noting this is a rare occurrence.
- Monetary compensation: If reinstatement isn’t feasible, you may be awarded compensation for lost wages, capped at 26 weeks’ pay. It’s important to remember this doesn’t include compensation for pain or suffering.
Exploring General Protections Claims: When Can You Lodge One?
You might have grounds for a general protections claim if your dismissal was because of a protected attribute or activity under the Fair Work Act. Examples of these include age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, absences due to illness, injury or leave, or lodging a complaint or inquiry about your employment.
The good news here is that there’s no minimum employment period to qualify for a general protections claim. Even if you were employed for just a few weeks, you can lodge a claim if you believe you were let go due to a protected reason. Like unfair dismissal claims, general protections claims must also be lodged within 21 days of dismissal.
Potential Outcomes of a General Protections Claim
Similar to unfair dismissal, you can seek either reinstatement or monetary compensation if your general protections claim is successful. However, some distinct advantages of a general protections claim include:
- Compensation isn’t capped at 26 weeks’ pay – there’s no limit to what you can claim.
- You may also seek compensation for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering due to job loss.
If you’ve been dismissed from your job, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims are potential avenues for redress. However, it’s crucial to understand the important distinctions between the two to maximize your chances of a positive outcome. Feel free to consult with Frontline Employment Defenders to ensure you take the most appropriate course of action.