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What are general protections?

All Australians are protected under the law in certain aspects of employment – these are known as your General Protections – and they allow you to exercise a number of workplace rights without being punished by having adverse action taken against you.

Adverse action can include:

  • changing your working conditions to your disadvantage (like reducing your number of shifts)
  • denying you a promotion or professional training
  • demoting you
  • forcing you to resign
  • sacking you

It is unlawful for your boss takes adverse action against you for exercising a workplace right, including dismissing you.

If you are sacked for exercising a workplace right, this is known as an unlawful dismissal.

What are your workplace rights?

Your workplace rights include:

  • making a complaint or inquiry about your working conditions (like your pay or the hours that you work or checking to see if your superannuation is being paid)
  • making a formal complaint about any form of discrimination or sexual harassment
  • a temporary absence from work because of an illness or injury
  • trade union membership or non-membership
  • participation in trade union activities
  • being absent from work during maternity leave or other parental leave
  • temporary absence from work to volunteer for emergency service activity

If you can prove that you were exercising one of these workplace rights, or were planning to exercise one of these workplace rights when adverse action was taken against you, then you might have been unlawful dismissed, and be eligible to lodge a general protections claims involving dismissal.

As the law currently stands, it is actually up to your boss to prove that you were not sacked because you were exercising a workplace right – this is known as a reverse onus of proof.

You might also be eligible to make a general protections claim if you suffer adverse action because of an attribute like your race, skin colour, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, disability, relationship status, parental responsibilities, pregnancy, or political activity. 

If you are sacked because of an attribute like one listed above, this is also known as an unlawful dismissal.

How much compensation will you get?

You are eligible to receive a larger compensation payout if you win a general protections claim (compared with an unfair dismissal claim), including damages for shock and distress.

In addition, your employer can be made to pay pecuniary penalties which are uncapped. 

The most recent figures released by the Fair Work Commission show the majority of people who lodge a general protections claim involving dismissal receive between $2,000 and $8,000 compensation, although many workers received payouts above $50,000. 

Please contact our specialist team who will be able to advise your chances of success, and the sort of payout you can expect to receive.

You only have 21 days to make claim

You have just 21 days from the date of your dismissal to lodge a general protections claim.

Don’t delay – call our team of employment lawyers and industrial advocates at Fair Work Act Claims today on 1300 359 516 or click here to register for a quick call back from one of our consultants.

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Fair Work Act Claims is a private consultancy and advocacy firm with no affiliation to any government agency, commission or tribunal.

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