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Understanding the General Protections Claims under the Fair Work Act 2009

In today’s rapidly changing job market, protecting employee rights is a pivotal aspect of an equitable workplace. A key piece of legislation in Australia, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FWA), safeguards employees against unwarranted actions by employers when they exercise or propose to exercise their workplace rights. Let’s delve into this complex topic to understand it better.

A Glimpse Into Workplace Rights

Firstly, it’s essential to define workplace rights. Under the FWA, this term is broadly interpreted. You can be considered to possess a workplace right if you:

  • Hold an entitlement under a workplace law or instrument, like an award or enterprise agreement.
  • Possess the capacity to initiate a proceeding under a workplace law or instrument.
  • Have the liberty to raise a complaint or inquiry concerning your employment.

The Concept of Adverse Action

Adverse action is a critical component of this law. It represents any unfavourable treatment against an employee, which may range from refusing to employ, discriminating against them, or causing harm to them in their employment. Actions such as a demotion or a reduction of regular work hours also fall under this category.

Freedom in Industrial Activities

The FWA protects every employee, employer, and contractor’s freedom to join or not join trade unions or employer associations, and to participate or not participate in industrial activities. No one can take adverse action against you due to your decision regarding these activities.

Prohibition of Discrimination

Additionally, the FWA prohibits any adverse action based on race, colour, sexual orientation, sex, age, disability, marital status, pregnancy, family/carer responsibilities, religion, political views, social origin, or national extraction.

Who Falls Under the Umbrella of General Protections Laws?

The general protections provisions apply to a wide range of individuals and groups:

  • Employees and potential employees.
  • Employers and potential employers.
  • Contractors and potential contractors.
  • A person who has entered into or who has proposed to enter into a contract for services with a contractor.
  • An industrial association.

The Two Faces of General Protection Claims

There are two primary forms of claims:

  • Disputes: This pertains to instances where an employee hasn’t been dismissed but believes their general protections rights have been violated.
  • Dismissals: This comes into play when an employee has been dismissed and holds the conviction that the dismissal contravenes the general protections provisions. The time-bound nature of these claims requires the employee to lodge a claim within 21 days of the date the dismissal takes effect, failing which the right to do so may be forfeited.

Initiating a Claim

If you think you’ve faced a violation of general protections, you can file a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). You also have the option to approach the Fair Work Commission (FWC), which addresses complaints regarding general protections.

If you suspect a contravention of the general protections under the FWA or if a complaint has been raised, it’s advisable to seek assistance promptly.

Call Frontline Employment Defenders Now so we can help you 1300 089 353 or visit

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