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Securing Your Career Interests: Unraveling the Complexities of Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims

An unexpected job termination can create a whirlwind of confusion and anxiety, especially if it feels unfair. Seeking redress from the Fair Work Commission could be a viable next step. This informative blog post aims to break down two common claim types—unfair dismissal and general protections—arming you with essential knowledge to handle this daunting situation. Comprehending these claims is the first stepping stone in choosing the path that best fits your circumstances and boosts the chances of a favorable resolution.

Interpreting Unfair Dismissal: Do You Fit the Bill?

If you’re jobless due to what you believe to be harsh, unjust, or unreasonable circumstances, or if you’re convinced that your termination was without just cause, you may have grounds to file an unfair dismissal claim. But you’d need to meet certain conditions:

Your employment should have lasted a minimum of six months (or 12 months for a small business employer).

Your employer should fall under the National System, or be controlled by a modern award or enterprise agreement.

Your annual income shouldn’t go over the high-income threshold, which is currently $167,500 (as of July 1, 2023).

If these circumstances align with your situation and you decide to go ahead with an unfair dismissal claim, ensure that your application is submitted to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your termination date.

The Aftermath of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What Can You Look Forward To?

If you succeed in your unfair dismissal claim, you can expect one of two results:

Reinstatement: This entails returning to your job in the state it was before your dismissal. However, such outcomes are somewhat infrequent.

Monetary compensation: If returning to your previous job is not an option, you may be awarded compensation for lost earnings, capped at 26 weeks’ pay. However, compensation does not cover emotional distress or suffering under this claim.

Decoding General Protections Claims: What’s the Procedure?

If your dismissal 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 qualify to lodge a general protections claim.

A significant advantage of general protections claims is the lack of a minimum employment duration prerequisite. Therefore, regardless of how long your employment lasted before dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you believe your termination was due to a protected reason. Like unfair dismissal claims, ensure that your application is lodged within 21 days of your dismissal.

The Result of a Successful General Protections Claim: What’s in It for You?

A victorious 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 claim, potentially going beyond the 26 weeks’ pay limit associated with unfair dismissal claims.

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


When dealing with a job dismissal, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims offer potential routes for legal relief. Understanding the key differences between these two can significantly affect the resolution of your case. It’s advisable to thoroughly study both to ensure you’re taking the best possible course of action for your unique situation.

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