Employee rights are paramount in fostering a productive, respectful, and harmonious work environment. These rights, which are provided by Commonwealth employment law, not only ensure fair treatment but also protect employees from harmful practices in the workplace.
This comprehensive guide delves into the rights and entitlements of employees, what constitutes a breach of these rights, and the steps one can take if their workplace rights have been violated.
Understanding Your Rights and Entitlements
Under Commonwealth employment law, workers enjoy a variety of rights and protections, including:
- Protection from discrimination: This pertains to adverse action due to race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction, or social origin.
- Protection from sham contracting arrangements: These misleading arrangements often seek to disguise employment relationships as contractor relationships, depriving employees of their rightful benefits.
- Right to take time off work when sick or injured: Employees should never feel compelled to work when their health is compromised.
- Right to union membership: You have the freedom to belong, or not belong, to a trade union.
- Right to employee representation: This includes becoming an employee representative.
- Freedom to participate in industrial activities: This is a fundamental labor right.
- Right to make a complaint or inquiry about your employment: Employees should feel free to voice their concerns without fear of retribution, either to their employer or another organization.
Adverse Action: Recognize It, Report It
Adverse action is a serious breach of employment law. This can involve the dismissal, demotion, denial of legal entitlements, job changes that disadvantage the employee, unequal treatment, or refusal of employment because the employee exercises their rights or proposes to do so.
Who Is Protected?
The general protections law is broad in its coverage. It extends to employees, prospective employees, independent contractors, prospective independent contractors, and labour hire workers. These protections apply across various entities, from businesses and the Commonwealth Government to Commonwealth authorities, territorial corporate bodies, and organizations.
However, if you’re employed under state employment law, you are not covered by general protections law. If you’re uncertain about your coverage, it’s advisable to seek legal advice.
Taking Action: Making a General Protections Application
If you suspect your employer of violating the general protections law, you can file a general protections application with the Fair Work Commission (FWC). It’s recommended that you seek legal advice before proceeding, as other methods of dispute resolution may be available.
Once the FWC receives your application, they schedule a conciliation conference, a process aimed at helping you and your employer resolve your dispute. It’s important to note that a fee is associated with filing a general protections application, though requests for a fee waiver can be made in cases of severe financial hardship.
Understanding and protecting your workplace rights and entitlements is integral to maintaining a fair and respectful working environment. Don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel if you believe your rights have been violated. After all, every employee deserves to feel safe, respected, and valued in their workplace.
Call Frontline Employment Defenders Now so we can help if you have been bullied or unfairly dismissed on1300 089 353 or visit https://www.fled.com.au