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Your Essential Guide to Unfair Dismissal and General Protections Claims: Dealing with Job Termination

Losing a job unexpectedly can create a whirlwind of stress and confusion, especially when there are indications of foul play. That’s where the Fair Work Commission steps in, providing a road to justice. This comprehensive guide delves into the world of two vital claim types—unfair dismissal and general protections—simplifying them for you. Knowing these claims is pivotal for selecting the best option for your particular case, increasing the chances of a favorable result.

Unraveling Unfair Dismissal: Are You the Right Fit?

If your employment ended under circumstances that appear harsh, unreasonable, or unjust, or if you firmly believe that your dismissal had no valid reason, you may be eligible for an unfair dismissal claim. However, to go down this route, you need to satisfy certain criteria:

Your employment should have lasted at least six months (or 12 months if the employer is a small business).

Your employer should fall under the National System, or be subject to a modern award or enterprise agreement.

Your annual wage must not go over the high-income threshold, currently pegged at $167,500 (as at July 1, 2023).

If these conditions align with your situation, and you opt for an unfair dismissal claim, remember to file your application with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days from your termination date.

What to Expect from a Successful Unfair Dismissal Claim?

If you manage to successfully argue an unfair dismissal claim, one of two results might be in store:

Reinstatement: This refers to returning to your position as it was before your dismissal. However, such outcomes are relatively rare.

Financial Compensation: If your return to your former job is impractical, you might be awarded compensation for lost earnings, capped at a maximum of 26 weeks’ pay. However, compensation for emotional distress is not considered under this claim.

General Protections Claims Demystified: What’s the Process?

If you were let go due to exercising a right or attribute safeguarded under the Fair Work Act—such as age, race, disability, gender, religious or political beliefs, union membership, or usage of sick leave—you could be well-positioned to lodge a general protections claim.

A significant benefit of general protections claims is that there’s no requirement for a minimum period of employment. Regardless of how long you were employed before being let go, you can lodge a claim if you think your termination was for a protected reason. As with unfair dismissal claims, you need to lodge your application within 21 days of your dismissal.

What’s the Reward of a Successful General Protections Claim?

A successful general protections claim can also result in either reinstatement or financial compensation. However, it offers some unique benefits:

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

You can ask for compensation for non-economic damages, such as emotional trauma caused by job loss.

Decoding the Difference: Unfair Dismissal vs. General Protections Claims

While both claim types offer legal solutions for unfair job dismissal, it’s important to note their distinct differences. Unfair dismissal claims hinge on the fairness of the dismissal process, while general protections claims center on the reason behind the dismissal. Understanding this can make a world of difference in your case’s outcome.

In Summary

Coming to terms with job termination is never an easy task. Both unfair dismissal and general protections claims offer potential avenues to legal resolution. Getting a grasp on the distinctions between these two is crucial, as it could considerably affect the outcome of your case. Therefore, dedicate time to study these options carefully, ensuring your decision is well-grounded and optimal for your specific circumstances.

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