Experiencing an unexpected job loss can be an extremely disconcerting experience, and it can feel even more daunting when the dismissal seems to be unfounded. In such a situation, seeking assistance from the Fair Work Commission may be an effective recourse. This blog post will endeavor to simplify two commonly encountered types of claims — unfair dismissal and general protections — and arm you with the necessary knowledge required to tackle this challenging situation. Understanding these claims is vital for determining the most suitable course of action for your particular situation and consequently, improving your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.
Unraveling Unfair Dismissal: Are You a Suitable Candidate?
Should you find yourself without a job under harsh, unjust, or unreasonable conditions, or if you believe your dismissal was devoid of valid reasons, an unfair dismissal claim might be a viable option for you. However, certain conditions need to be fulfilled:
Your employment tenure must be a minimum of six months (or 12 months in the case of a small business).
Your employer must be part of the National System, or regulated by a modern award or enterprise agreement.
Your annual earnings must not exceed the high-income threshold, currently at $167,500 as of July 1, 2023.
If these conditions align with your circumstances and you decide to proceed with an unfair dismissal claim, be sure to lodge your application with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days from your termination date.
The Consequences of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What Can You Expect?
If your unfair dismissal claim is successful, you could look forward to one of two possible outcomes:
Reinstatement: This means being returned to your job as it was prior to your dismissal. However, such outcomes are relatively uncommon.
Financial compensation: If it’s not feasible for you to go back to your job, you may receive compensation for lost wages, up to a maximum of 26 weeks’ pay. However, this type of claim does not provide compensation for emotional distress or suffering.
Deciphering General Protections Claims: The Process
If you believe your dismissal was the result of your exercise of a protected right or attribute under the Fair Work Act — including age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or usage of sick leave — you could be eligible to lodge a general protections claim.
One primary advantage of general protections claims is that there’s no requirement for a minimum period of employment. Hence, irrespective of the length of your employment prior to dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you think your termination was due to a protected reason. Just like unfair dismissal claims, it’s important to lodge your application within 21 days of your dismissal.
The Outcome of a Successful General Protections Claim: What Can You Look Forward To?
Winning a general protections claim can also lead to either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, general protections claims offer a few unique advantages:
There’s no upper limit on the compensation you can seek, potentially exceeding the 26 weeks’ pay cap associated with unfair dismissal claims.
You can claim compensation for non-monetary losses, such as emotional distress resulting from the job loss.
Unfair Dismissal vs General Protections Claims: Key Differences
While both types of claims can provide recourse in the event of unfair termination, they do have a few critical differences. First, there is no minimum employment duration requirement for general protections claims, which is a prerequisite in unfair dismissal claims. Secondly, while unfair dismissal primarily concerns the fairness of the dismissal process, general protections claims focus on the reason for dismissal.
Dealing with job termination can be daunting, but both unfair dismissal and general protections claims offer potential avenues for legal recourse. Understanding the fundamental differences between the two can significantly affect your case’s outcome. Therefore, spending the time to thoroughly comprehend these options ensures you’re making the most informed decision for your unique situation.