According to the Fair Work Commission’s newly-released annual report, general protections claims involving termination of an employee has risen by 17.5% in 2014-15. This increase is slightly down in comparison to the previous year. However, the number of claims grew to a total of 3382, with around one third of them allowed to proceed to the Federal or Federal Circuit Courts.
This is a timely reminder for employers to remember that their employees do not have to have completed the minimum employment period to be eligible to make a general protections claim and that general protections claims attract civil penalties which can be awarded per contravention. In order to be eligible to file a general protections claim, an employee must show that they have a relevant workplace right and that the employer has taken, or threatened to take, adverse action against them on this basis. A workplace right is a right that is derived from a workplace law or instrument and is also defined to include the right to make a complaint or inquiry about an employee’s employment. Adverse action may include such conduct as dismissing an employee, discrimination or even reducing their ordinary hours of work. It is important for employees to demonstrate a connection between the adverse action and their workplace rights.
As employees become more aware of their rights and protections, members are advised to think carefully before terminating their staff. Failing to do so may result in penalties, injunctions and additional court costs to defend against a claim. To find out more about your rights and the best way of approaching dismissal, please call the NRA Hotline on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).