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Understanding Your Rights in a Dismissal Situation: A Complete Guide to Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims


An unexpected job termination can feel like a sudden storm, particularly when the reasons for your dismissal seem unjust. The Fair Work Commission, in these situations, is a potentially powerful ally. This blog post is designed to shed light on the details of two significant types of claims – unfair dismissal and general protections. By equipping yourself with a thorough understanding of these claims, you can choose the most appropriate option for your situation and enhance your chances of a successful outcome.

Unearthing Unfair Dismissal: Are You the Right Candidate?

If your job was ended abruptly under what you perceive to be harsh, unreasonable, or unjust conditions, or if you are convinced that your dismissal was without justifiable reason, an unfair dismissal claim might be worth considering. However, certain conditions must be met:

Your term of employment should have been at least six months (or 12 months if your employer is a small business).

Your employer should operate within the National System or be bound by a modern award or enterprise agreement.

Your annual income should not go beyond the high-income threshold, currently set at $167,500 as of July 1, 2023.

If these prerequisites align with your situation and you decide to lodge an unfair dismissal claim, remember to file your application with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your termination date.

The Consequences of a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim: What Can You Expect?

If your unfair dismissal claim wins, you can anticipate one of two outcomes:

Reinstatement: This means returning to your job as it was before your dismissal. However, this type of resolution is relatively infrequent.

Financial compensation: If a return to your prior job is not possible, you could be awarded compensation for lost wages, capped at a maximum of 26 weeks’ pay. It’s important to note that this claim does not cover emotional distress or suffering.

Dissecting General Protections Claims: What Lies Ahead?

If you were dismissed because you exercised a right or attribute protected under the Fair Work Act—such as age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or the use of sick leave—you could be in a position to file a general protections claim.

A notable advantage of general protections claims is that they do not require a minimum employment duration. Thus, irrespective of how long you were employed before dismissal, you can file a claim if you believe your termination was for a protected reason. Just like with unfair dismissal claims, your application must be submitted within 21 days of your dismissal.

The Outcome of a Successful General Protections Claim: What Could You Gain?

A win in a general protections claim can also lead to either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, general protections claims come with some unique features:

There is no maximum limit on the compensation you can seek, potentially surpassing the 26 weeks’ pay associated with unfair dismissal claims.

You can claim compensation for non-economic losses, like emotional distress caused by the job loss.

Differentiating Between Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims: Key Distinctions

While both types of claims can provide possible relief in the event of an unfair job dismissal, they each have distinct aspects. First, general protections claims do not have a minimum employment duration requirement, unlike unfair dismissal claims. Second, while unfair dismissal claims focus on the fairness of the dismissal process, general protections claims consider the reason for the dismissal.

In Summary

Navigating a job dismissal can seem like a confusing labyrinth, but both unfair dismissal and general protections claims offer potential paths to legal resolution. Grasping the main differences between the two can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Therefore, taking the time to fully understand these options is crucial in choosing the most beneficial approach for your specific circumstances.

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