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Safeguarding Your Employment Rights: A Comprehensive Guide to Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims

Navigating the stormy waters of sudden job termination can be daunting, particularly if the dismissal feels unjust. Turning towards the Fair Work Commission could be your next step to secure justice. In this enlightening blog post, we seek to simplify the understanding of two prominent claim types—unfair dismissal and general protections—equipping you with the knowledge necessary to tread confidently through these complex times. A thorough understanding of these claims is vital in selecting the one that aligns best with your unique situation and increases the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Decoding Unfair Dismissal: Are You Qualified?

Should you find yourself jobless under circumstances that appear harsh, unjust, or unreasonable, or if you firmly believe your dismissal was without valid reasons, you might be eligible to launch an unfair dismissal claim. However, it is important to note the following prerequisites:

You need to have been employed for a minimum of six months (or 12 months if the employer is a small business).

The employer must fall under the National System or be governed by a modern award or enterprise agreement.

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

If these criteria fit your situation and you choose to pursue an unfair dismissal claim, make sure to submit your application to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days from your dismissal date.

The Outcome of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What Can You Expect?

A successful unfair dismissal claim can result in one of two outcomes:

Reinstatement: This involves returning to your job as it was before your dismissal. However, such results are relatively rare.

Financial compensation: If a return to your job is not feasible, you could be awarded compensation for lost earnings, up to a maximum of 26 weeks’ pay. However, emotional distress or suffering is not covered under this claim.

Exploring General Protections Claims: What Does it Involve?

If your termination was due to exercising 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 eligible to lodge a general protections claim.

One significant advantage of general protections claims is the absence of a minimum employment duration requirement. Thus, no matter how long your employment was prior to dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you believe your termination was due to a protected reason. Like unfair dismissal claims, you need to lodge your application within 21 days of your dismissal.

The Reward of a Successful General Protections Claim: What Can You Gain?

A successful general protections claim can lead to either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, general protections claims offer some unique benefits:

There’s no cap on the compensation you can pursue, potentially surpassing the 26 weeks’ pay limit associated with unfair dismissal claims.

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

Final Thoughts

In the face of job termination, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims provide potential pathways for legal remedy. Recognizing the key differences between the two can significantly influence the outcome of your case. It’s prudent to take the time to understand both thoroughly to ensure you’re moving in the right direction, securing the best possible outcome for your situation.

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