What can you do if you're an employee and you have questions about dismissal, redundancy, bullying, discrimination, workplace injury, and wages and entitlements?
Have you been dismissed?
If you have been dismissed and you think that the dismissal was unfair, you may be entitled to make an unfair dismissal application with the Fair Work Commission. You must make your application within 21 days of the date of the dismissal.
If you believe your dismissal was based on discriminatory grounds (e.g. age, sex, race, disability, pregnancy, family or carer responsibilities etc.) or if it occurred because you exercised your workplace rights, you may be entitled to make a general protections application. This sort of application (which is also known as an “adverse action” claim) must also be made to the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of the date of the dismissal.
Strict time limits apply in the above situations so if you think you have a claim against your employer, you should contact your union or a lawyer as soon as possible after the termination of your employment.
For more information on unfair dismissals and general protections, see the Fair Work Commission.
Have you been made redundant?
If you are employed under an award or an enterprise agreement, your employer is obliged to consult with you concerning any proposed redundancy.
If your employer is not a small business employer, you may be entitled to redundancy pay under the National Employment Standards, an Award or an Enterprise Agreement, depending on what applies to your employment.
If your employer had obligations to consult and failed to do so, or if you consider the redundancy is not a genuine redundancy, you may be entitled to lodge an unfair dismissal application. Strict time limits apply, so if you think your redundancy has not been properly managed or is not genuine, you should contact your union or a lawyer as soon as possible.
Are you being bullied at work?
If you think you are being bullied at work and that is creating a risk to your health and safety, you may be eligible to make an application to the Fair Work Commission for an order to stop the bullying.
For more information on the anti-bullying jurisdiction of the Fair Work Commission, see the Fair Work Commission website or speak to your union or a lawyer.
Have you experienced discrimination in the workplace?
Subject to specific exceptions, it is generally unlawful to discriminate against a person in the workplace on the following grounds:
- Sexual orientation
- Physical or mental disability
- Marital status
- Family or carer’s responsibilities
- Political opinion.
The ACT or Australian Human Rights Commissions can investigate complaints of discrimination. Time limits for making a complaint do apply but they are generally within 12 months of the discrimination occurring, although a time limit of two years applies for complaints made to the ACT Human Rights Commission.
You can also lodge an application for breach of general protections (discrimination) with the Fair Work Commission. If you have been dismissed for discriminatory reasons you will need to lodge an application within 21 days from the date of the dismissal. If your employment is ongoing, you can lodge an application within the usual statutory time limits (within six years of the date the discrimination occurred).
For further information regarding discrimination in the workplace and complaint processes see the following websites or talk to your union or a lawyer.
Have you suffered from a workplace injury?
If you have been injured at work, you must let your employer know as soon as possible. You may need to make a worker’s compensation claim. You can obtain a claim form from your employer and you will be required to provide an approved medical certificate from your nominated treating doctor.
For more information on workplace injuries or any concerns about work health and safety issues in your workplace, see WorksafeACT or contact a lawyer.
Do you need to know more about your wages and entitlements?
Your minimum wages and entitlements may be based on an applicable Award, an Enterprise Agreement or the National Employment Standards (NES). Your employment agreement may include additional terms and conditions, including wages or salary above award level.
If you are not being paid correctly under an Award or Enterprise Agreement or if you are owed entitlements, first speak to your employer. If that does not work, you may be entitled to lodge a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman who can investigate and help resolve the problem (forms and information are available on the Fair Work Ombudsman website).
The Fair Work Ombudsman website also has comprehensive information about all matters relating to award wage rates, allowances, loadings and penalty rates and NES entitlements. It also has a “Paycheck Plus” calculator which can calculate applicable award rates at any point in time.
For more information see the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Do you need to know more about your long service leave entitlements?
In the ACT, your long service leave entitlement generally arises under the ACT Long Service Leave Act. However, if you work as an employee or a contractor in the building and construction industry, the contract cleaning industry, the community sector industry or the security industry, you will be entitled to long service leave under the Long Service Leave (Portable Schemes) Act 2009 which is administered by ACT Leave.
Commonwealth public sector employees are covered by separate legislation.
Do you need to know more about your superannuation entitlements?
Your employer is required to make regular contributions to your superannuation under the superannuation legislation.
Superannuation is administered by the Australian Taxation Office. For further information on superannuation, or if you need to make a complaint about unpaid superannuation, see the ATO website.
Where can I get help in relation to workplace issues?
For Commonwealth public servants, see the Australian Public Service Commission website.
If you are a union member, contact your union.
The ACT Law Society also has a list of practitioners with experience in employment law and will be able to provide you with a referral to a lawyer who works in this area of law.
This publication is intended as a simple guide. It is not, and must not be taken to be, legal advice. For legal advice please consult a solicitor. While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, the ACT Law Society does not make any representations or warranty as to the accuracy of the material in the publication. The publication has been written according to the applicable laws in Australia relevant to a resident of the Australian Capital Territory as at 15 December 2014.