Australia’s unfair dismissal laws are quite tough, and they provide a high level of protection for employees. In short, you can’t be fired or otherwise removed from employment without good reason or without your employer following the correct process as outlined in your contract.

However, these laws don’t apply to everybody. You will only be able to make an unfair dismissal claim if you meet certain criteria, which we’ve outlined in the rest of this article. But before we look at these, let’s define exactly what unfair dismissal is.

What Is Unfair Dismissal?

In short, unfair dismissal refers to any termination of employment that’s unreasonably harsh, unjust, or without a valid reason. A few examples of unfair dismissal include:

  • Losing your job because of something unrelated to your work or workplace.
  • Being fired for no apparent reason and without sufficient warning.
  • Having your contract terminated due to performance or other issues without being given a chance to address these issues.

There’s no one definition of what constitutes unfair dismissal, and every case is treated on an individual basis.

When Can I Make an Unfair Dismissal Claim?

Unfortunately, not everyone is protected from unfair dismissal – regardless of the circumstances surrounding their departure. You may be able to make a claim if you:

  • Have been employed for at least six months with your current employer. This extends to 12 months if you’ve been working with a small business that had less than 15 employees at the time of contract termination.
  • Have been fired within the last 21 days. All claims must be submitted to the Fair Work Commission within this period to be valid.
  • Earn below the high-income threshold, which currently sits at $148,700 a year. Alternatively, your employment needs to be covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement.

Contract termination isn’t considered unfair if it’s made because of a true redundancy or in line with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code. More information about this can be found on the Fair Work Commission website.

In addition, employees of certain government agencies and specified types of businesses aren’t protected. This varies by state, so do your research.

How Do I Make an Unfair Dismissal Claim?

If you feel like you’ve been fired without valid reason and are eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim, there are a few things that you need to do. For starters, we’d highly recommend speaking with a legal professional to ensure you’re approaching things the right way and to maximise your chances of a successful claim.

When you decide to go ahead, a claim can be lodged via the Fair Work Commission. From here, the best thing to do is to try and resolve things with your employer and settle amicably. This is by far the simplest way to resolve things, and will probably end up best for both you and your former employer.

If you can’t resolve things without third-party intervention, the Fair Work Commission will hear your claim and make a ruling. This is final, so make sure you present adequate supporting documentation and present your case well.

All things considered, unfair dismissal claims aren’t that hard. Speak with a legal professional if you feel you’ve been wronged, submit your claim, and await the result.