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What are general protections?

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

Your workplace rights include:

  • making a complaint or inquiry about your working conditions (like your pay or the hours that you work)
  • making a formal complaint about 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

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

If you can prove that you were exercising a workplace right, or were planning to exercise a workplace right, when adverse action was taken against you, then it is up to your boss to prove that was not the case.

This is known as a reverse onus of proof.

You are also 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, 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.


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 today on 1300 324 748 or click here to register for a quick call back from one of our consultants.


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

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