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Navigating the Aussie Employment Landscape: Unpacking the Fair Work Act 2009

Australia takes pride in its well-structured employment scene that seeks to promote fair play and equity. The cornerstone of this robust system is the Fair Work Act 2009, a ground-breaking legislation that stretches its protective arm across employees all over the country. One of its most vital components is a feature known as “general protections”.

This term might sound somewhat complicated, but once we examine its most frequent use case – adverse action claims – it becomes much easier to comprehend. Employees have the right to submit these claims when they experience unjust bias within their work environment. Such unfair treatments may involve wrongful dismissal or being treated less favourably than others, provided the underlying reason is protected under the Fair Work Act.

While adverse action claims capture the limelight, general protections covered by the Fair Work Act cast a much wider net. This broad framework shields employees’ rights, offering a safe platform for their career progression.

Harnessing the Potency of General Protections

General protections claims differentiate themselves from unfair dismissal claims as they are not tied to an employee’s length of service or salary range. Employees can make use of this right either during their employment or within three weeks of contract termination. Importantly, potential compensation for these claims isn’t limited, unlike with unfair dismissal cases.

General protections offer an umbrella that covers a range of claims including adverse actions, sham contracting, misrepresentation of workplace rights, and dismissal owing to temporary illness or injury-related absence.

Traversing the Landscape of Adverse Action Claims

Adverse action claims become relevant when an unjust action, prohibited by the Fair Work Act, is carried out against an employee in the workplace. Common prohibited motives include protected attributes such as race, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, disability, among others. The Act also encompasses workplace rights like lodging a complaint or enquiry regarding employment, taking leave, or filing a claim against the employer.

With potential for significant compensation, anyone facing an adverse action claim should consider getting professional legal guidance.

Tackling Workplace Discrimination

Adverse action claims also provide a remedy when employees face discrimination. A typical case might involve an employee alleging they were denied promotion due to their age or were dismissed on account of their religious beliefs.

Importantly, this protection extends beyond current employees to job applicants who may have been bypassed due to discriminatory practices.

Protected attributes under general protections cover race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction, and social origin. Discrimination claims can also be filed under federal and state discrimination legislation, which sometimes cover an even broader range of protected attributes.

Lodging General Protections Claims

When an employee submits a general protections application with the Fair Work Commission, the employer typically drafts a formal response outlining their defence. Subsequently, a telephone conciliation meeting is usually arranged to encourage early settlement discussions. If no agreement is reached, the dispute may progress to the Federal Circuit Court, Federal Court, or, in certain cases, a formal arbitration at the Fair Work Commission.

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t fret. Contact our team at Frontline Employment Defenders today at 1300 089 353, or visit our website at for professional assistance navigating Australia’s employment laws.

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