Facing sudden job loss can be incredibly unsettling, and suspicions of underhanded tactics can make it even more challenging. If you suspect that your job loss was unjust, the Fair Work Commission may be your next destination to seek justice. In this blog post, we’ll demystify two popular claim types—unfair dismissal and general protections—to empower you with the knowledge you need to navigate these murky waters. Understanding these claims is crucial to choosing the one that matches your circumstances best and maximizes the likelihood of a successful outcome.
A Closer Look at Unfair Dismissal: Are You Eligible?
If you’ve lost your job under what seems to be harsh, unreasonable, or unjust circumstances, or if you’re convinced that your dismissal lacked valid grounds, you could qualify to make an unfair dismissal claim. However, this would require you to meet certain prerequisites:
- You must have been employed for a minimum of six months (or 12 months if it’s a small business).
- Your employer should be under the National System, or regulated by a modern award or enterprise agreement.
- Your yearly earnings shouldn’t surpass the high-income threshold, currently set at $167,500 (as of July 1, 2023).
If these conditions resonate with your situation and you decide to proceed with an unfair dismissal claim, ensure to submit your application to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your termination date.
The Fruit of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What To Expect?
Upon successfully arguing an unfair dismissal claim, you could anticipate one of two results:
- Reinstatement: This implies being restored to your job as it was prior to your dismissal. However, such outcomes are relatively rare.
- Financial compensation: If going back to your job isn’t feasible, you could receive compensation for lost earnings, up to a cap of 26 weeks’ pay. Emotional distress or suffering is not compensated under this claim.
Unpacking General Protections Claims: What’s the Procedure?
Should your dismissal have occurred due to your exercising of a protected right or attribute under the Fair Work Act—such as age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or use of sick leave—you might be in a position to file a general protections claim.
One key advantage of general protections claims is the absence of a minimum employment duration requirement. Therefore, regardless of the length of your employment before dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you believe your termination was for 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’s In It For You?
Victory in a general protections claim can also lead to either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, general protections claims provide some unique benefits:
- There’s no ceiling on the compensation you can seek, potentially exceeding the 26 weeks’ pay cap associated with unfair dismissal claims.
- You can seek compensation for non-economic damages, such as emotional distress resulting from the job loss.
If you’re grappling with a job dismissal, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims present potential paths to legal redress. However, discerning the key differences between the two could significantly influence your case’s outcome. It’s always wise to seek advice from Frontline Employment Defenders, to ensure you’re charting the best possible course of action