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Understanding Your Legal Options: A Deep Dive into Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims

If you’ve recently lost your job under questionable circumstances, it’s natural to feel aggrieved and to consider seeking legal redress. In such situations, you may want to lodge a claim with the Fair Work Commission. To help guide you through this challenging time, we’ll explore two of the most frequent claims filed following a dismissal: unfair dismissal claims and general protections claims. A comprehensive understanding of these distinct legal pathways is crucial to determine which best aligns with your situation, ultimately enhancing your chances of obtaining a satisfactory outcome.

Breaking Down Unfair Dismissal Claims: Are You Eligible?

If you’re under the impression that your dismissal was harsh, unjust, or unreasonable, or perhaps there was no legitimate reason behind your termination, you could be entitled to file an unfair dismissal claim. But first, you need to meet certain conditions:

  1. A minimum employment duration of six months (or 12 months for a small business).
  2. Your employer must be part of the National System or covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement.
  3. Your annual salary must be below the high-income threshold, currently set at $167,500 as of July 1, 2023.

Should these conditions align with your circumstance and you decide to proceed with an unfair dismissal claim, don’t forget to submit your application to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your dismissal.

What Can You Expect from a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim?

Upon succeeding with an unfair dismissal claim, two outcomes are possible:

  1. Reinstatement: This could mean returning to your previous role prior to your dismissal. However, it’s noteworthy that reinstatements are relatively rare.
  2. Monetary compensation: In instances where reinstatement isn’t suitable, you might receive compensation for lost earnings, up to a limit of 26 weeks’ pay. This does not encompass compensation for emotional distress or pain and suffering.

A Closer Look at General Protections Claims: What’s the Process?

In case your dismissal was due to exercising a protected right or attribute under the Fair Work Act – like age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or taking sick leave – you might be eligible for a general protections claim.

A positive aspect of general protections claims is that there’s no minimum employment duration needed to qualify. So, even if you were employed for a short duration before dismissal, you can lodge a claim if you believe your termination was due to a protected reason. Just like with unfair dismissal claims, your application must be lodged within 21 days of dismissal.

What are the Possible Outcomes of a Successful General Protections Claim?

Similar to unfair dismissal claims, successful general protections claims can lead to either reinstatement or monetary compensation. However, general protections claims offer some unique benefits:

  1. There’s no cap on compensation, meaning you could potentially claim more than 26 weeks’ pay.
  2. You’re eligible to claim compensation for non-economic losses, like pain and suffering due to job loss.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve been dismissed from your job, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims are potential paths to justice. However, grasping the significant differences between the two can be instrumental in securing a favorable outcome. Always consider consulting with a legal expert, such as our team at Frontline Employment Defenders, to ensure you pursue the most suitable course of action.

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