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Understanding Fair Treatment at Work: Unfair Dismissal, Discrimination, and Redundancy

Workplace dynamics should be characterized by respect and fairness for all employees. Integral to this is a set of laws designed to prevent discrimination based on gender, race, cultural or religious affiliation. Further, Fair Work regulations provide legal protection against unfair dismissal for employees who have served their qualifying period.

In economically challenging times, it’s paramount for both employees and employers to fully understand their rights and obligations. Employers, in particular, should have transparent conversations with their staff if business performance is subpar. However, tough economic conditions shouldn’t justify unlawful actions by employers.

Alterations to permanent contracts should occur through a process of negotiation and consent. It’s not within the purview of an employer to unilaterally decrease your wage or work hours.

In instances of redundancy – when the employer cannot afford to maintain your position – you should be entitled to full redundancy benefits.

Despite economic difficulties, businesses must adhere to the law by not dismissing employees unfairly or on discriminatory grounds.

Understanding Unfair Dismissal

Unfair dismissal arises when an employee is terminated in a manner deemed harsh, unjust, or unreasonable.

Access to unfair dismissal laws is vital for employees to challenge unjust termination and also serves as a deterrent to employers contemplating unfair dismissal. These laws create a conducive, fair, and safe workplace environment.

All employees, barring those who haven’t completed the necessary qualifying period or those earning above the income threshold, can access unfair dismissal protections.

Knowing Your Rights: Workplace Warnings

Receiving a workplace warning can be intimidating, but it’s crucial to understand the implications of such an act.

A legitimate warning from your boss indicates a need for improvement in your job performance. It’s expected that you’re given a reasonable chance to make necessary improvements, which could include additional training.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘three warning’ rule, and a single warning can precede dismissal.

Warnings should always be given in good faith. They should not serve as tools for intimidation or bullying, nor should they be discriminatory against any staff member.

Termination Notice Requirements

Permanent employees should be given notice if their employment is to be terminated. If no such notice is given, they should receive their termination pay at the usual rate.

Notice periods are determined by the employee’s period of continuous service with the employer and their age. For those aged over 45 with at least 2 years of service, an extra week is added to the required notice periods.

Unreceived notice or pay in lieu of notice, can warrant complaints to the Fair Work Ombudsman or your union.

Qualifying Period for Unfair Dismissal

To challenge an unfair dismissal, employees should have served a minimum of 6 months in the same job. For small businesses (less than 15 employees), the qualifying period extends to 12 months.

Filing an Unfair Dismissal Claim

Claims for unfair dismissal can be filed with Fair Work Australia (FWA) within 21 days of dismissal. A fee applies, but hardship provisions may allow for a waiver. Late claims may be heard under exceptional circumstances.

Discrimination and Unlawful Termination

Discrimination or termination on grounds of race, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin is illegal.

If you have been discriminated against, you can lodge an adverse action complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). Unlawful termination claims can also be filed with the FWO within 21 days of the incident.

Understanding Redundancy

Redundancy transpires when an employer no longer requires an employee’s role to be performed by anyone, or if the employer becomes bankrupt or insolvent.

If you’re made redundant, you’re entitled to severance pay, notice period, and any accrued leave, unless your employer has fewer than 15 employees.

Severance rates vary according to the duration of your service, but it’s essential to understand that redundancies must be genuine. In case of a legitimate redundancy, you can’t file for unfair dismissal or unlawful termination.

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