When hit with an unexpected termination from work, the ensuing confusion and stress are often exacerbated if you suspect unfair practice. If you feel your dismissal was unjustified, turning to the Fair Work Commission for legal recourse could be your next best move. In this blog post, we elucidate two commonly lodged claim types—unfair dismissal and general protections—to equip you with the vital knowledge to traverse this complex situation. Getting a clear understanding of these claims is the first step in picking the one that best aligns with your specific circumstances and boosts your chances of winning your case.
Unfair Dismissal Demystified: Do You Meet the Criteria?
If you’re suddenly out of work due to what you consider to be harsh, unjust, or unreasonable circumstances, or if you’re certain that your termination was without a justifiable cause, you might be a candidate for an unfair dismissal claim. However, this path requires you to fulfill specific conditions:
Your tenure should have been at least six months (or 12 months in the case of a small business).
Your employer needs to be under the National System, or regulated by a modern award or enterprise agreement.
Your annual remuneration must not exceed the high-income threshold, which stands at $167,500 (as of July 1, 2023).
If these prerequisites match your situation and you opt to pursue an unfair dismissal claim, make sure to submit your application to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your termination date.
What Awaits You After a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim?
Upon successfully arguing an unfair dismissal claim, you may expect one of two results:
Reinstatement: This means returning to your previous job role as it was before your dismissal. Yet, such outcomes are relatively infrequent.
Monetary compensation: If reemployment is not a viable option, you could receive compensation for lost earnings, capped at 26 weeks’ pay. Note, however, that this claim does not cover emotional distress or suffering.
Unveiling General Protections Claims: What’s the Drill?
If your dismissal resulted from the exercise of a protected right or attribute under the Fair Work Act—like age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or use of sick leave—you may have the grounds to file a general protections claim.
One distinct advantage of general protections claims is that they don’t mandate a minimum period of employment. Hence, regardless of your employment duration before dismissal, you can file a claim if you believe your termination was for a protected reason. As with unfair dismissal claims, ensure your application is lodged within 21 days of your dismissal.
What Can You Gain from a Successful General Protections Claim?
A victorious general protections claim can lead to either reinstatement or monetary compensation. However, general protections claims offer some unique advantages:
There’s no maximum limit on the compensation you can claim, potentially surpassing the 26 weeks’ pay cap linked with unfair dismissal claims.
You can claim compensation for non-economic damages, like emotional distress caused by the job loss.
In a Nutshell
When confronted with a job dismissal, both unfair dismissal and general protections claims provide possible avenues for legal remedy. Distinguishing the key differences between these two can significantly sway your case’s outcome. To ensure you’re on the best path forward, it’s always prudent to consult with professionals, such as Frontline Employment Defenders, to guide your next steps.