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Steering Through Post-Termination Challenges: A Comprehensive Guide to Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims

The sudden loss of a job can be a whirlwind of turmoil, more so when it appears to be unjustified. In such scenarios, making an appeal to the Fair Work Commission could be a constructive next step. This blog post sets out to simplify two commonly encountered claim types—unfair dismissal and general protections—to equip you with the crucial knowledge required to manage this intimidating situation effectively. Grasping these claims is key to identifying the best suited one for your individual circumstances, thereby enhancing the likelihood of a favorable result.

Understanding Unfair Dismissal: Do You Qualify?

If you’re without a job due to circumstances that seem harsh, unjust, or unreasonable, or if you’re certain your dismissal had no valid grounds, you might be in a position to lodge an unfair dismissal claim. But this path demands that you meet specific conditions:

Your employment should have lasted a minimum of six months (or 12 months in the case of a small business).

Your employer must be under the National System or regulated by a modern award or enterprise agreement.

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

If these situations mirror your experience and you decide to go ahead with an unfair dismissal claim, be sure to lodge your application with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days from your termination date.

The Upshot of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What Lies Ahead?

On winning an unfair dismissal claim, you can usually anticipate one of two outcomes:

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

Financial compensation: If returning to your previous position is not feasible, you could receive compensation for lost earnings, capped at 26 weeks’ pay. However, this claim does not cover compensation for emotional distress or suffering.

Exploring General Protections Claims: What’s the Process?

If your dismissal was the result of 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 file a general protections claim.

One standout benefit of general protections claims is that there’s no requirement for a minimum duration of employment. Therefore, regardless of your employment’s length prior to dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you believe your termination was for a protected reason. As with unfair dismissal claims, remember to lodge your application within 21 days of your dismissal.

The Reward of a Successful General Protections Claim: What’s In Store?

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

There’s no upper limit on the compensation you can seek, potentially going beyond the 26 weeks’ pay cap associated with unfair dismissal claims.

You can claim compensation for non-economic damages, like emotional distress stemming from the job loss.

In Conclusion

When dealing with a job dismissal, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims offer potential legal recourse. Recognising the fundamental differences between these two can greatly influence your case’s outcome. It’s beneficial to take the time to understand both thoroughly, ensuring you’re making the most appropriate choice for your unique situation.

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