The unexpected termination of employment can be a disorienting ordeal, especially when it seems to lack justification. In such circumstances, turning to the Fair Work Commission may be a strategic move. In this blog post, our aim is to demystify two prevalent claim categories—unfair dismissal and general protections—to arm you with vital knowledge needed to navigate this complex situation. Comprehending these claims is instrumental in pinpointing the most suitable one for your specific circumstances, thereby boosting your chances of a positive outcome.
Dissecting Unfair Dismissal: Are You a Candidate?
If you’ve lost your job due to harsh, unjust, or unreasonable circumstances, or if you’re convinced your dismissal lacked justifiable grounds, you might be eligible to pursue an unfair dismissal claim. However, this route requires you to meet a few prerequisites:
Your tenure should have been at least six months (or 12 months if you worked for a small business).
Your employer should be regulated by the National System or subject to a modern award or enterprise agreement.
Your annual income should not cross the high-income threshold, which as of July 1, 2023, is set at $167,500.
If these criteria align with your situation and you decide to initiate an unfair dismissal claim, make sure to lodge your application with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days from your termination date.
The Outcome of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What Awaits?
Upon winning an unfair dismissal claim, you can generally anticipate one of two outcomes:
Reinstatement: This involves returning to your job as it was prior to your dismissal. However, such occurrences are few and far between.
Financial compensation: If returning to your former job is not an option, you could be awarded compensation for lost earnings, capped at 26 weeks’ pay. It’s important to note that this claim does not consider compensation for emotional distress or suffering.
Decoding General Protections Claims: The Procedure
If your dismissal resulted from the exercising of a protected right or attribute under the Fair Work Act—attributes like age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or the use of sick leave—you might qualify to lodge a general protections claim.
A significant advantage of general protections claims is that they don’t require a minimum duration of employment. Hence, irrespective 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, the timeline for lodging your application is within 21 days of your dismissal.
The Benefit of a Successful General Protections Claim: What’s There for You?
A victorious general protections claim can also lead to either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, general protections claims offer certain unique benefits:
There’s no cap on the compensation you can claim, possibly exceeding the 26 weeks’ pay cap associated with unfair dismissal claims.
You can claim compensation for non-economic losses, such as emotional distress resulting from job loss.
General Protections Claims vs. Unfair Dismissal: Key Differences
While both claims are potentially effective means to address unfair termination, they differ in a few crucial areas. Firstly, there is no minimum employment duration requirement for general protections claims, unlike unfair dismissal claims. Moreover, unfair dismissal focuses more on the fairness of the process, while general protections claims concentrate on the reason for the dismissal.
Navigating job dismissal can be challenging, but both unfair dismissal and general protections claims offer potential legal recourse. Appreciating the core differences between the two can greatly influence your case’s outcome. Thus, dedicating time to understand both options thoroughly ensures you’re making the best possible decision for your unique circumstances.