Hire A Skilled Lawyer To Handle Unfair Dismissal & Redundancy


Unfair Dismissal, General Protections claims, complaints and grievances are rising. Our experience in this space means we understand the challenges and can help you understand your options to mitigate liability and risk, whilst achieving a successful result for your business.

Unfair Dismissal vs. General Protections Claims

Unfair dismissal claims occur when an employee believes they have been dismissed harshly, unjustly, or unreasonably. On the other hand, general protections claims are broader. They can involve allegations of adverse action taken because an employee exercised a workplace right, such as making a complaint or enquiry about their employment.

Unfair Dismissal and General Protections

Handling complaints and grievances effectively is crucial in mitigating the risk to your business. This involves dealing with particularly serious misconduct and advising on ‘show cause’ processes. The use of clear, comprehensive policies can provide a framework for addressing these issues fairly and consistently.

Mitigating risk and liability

To protect your business from potential claims, consider the following strategies:

Understand your legal obligations

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) covers unfair dismissal and general protections, these provisions apply to all Australian businesses.

Implement clear policies

Establish well-defined workplace policies and ensure they are communicated to all employees.

Train management

Ensure managers and supervisors understand their obligations under employment law and know how to handle complaints and grievances appropriately.

Seek legal advice

Engage with legal professionals to guide you through complex situations and provide advice tailored to your circumstances.

While these strategies can help mitigate risk, they cannot eliminate it entirely. Our team has extensive experience in handling unfair dismissal and general protections claims. We can advise you on managing potential liabilities and achieving successful outcomes for your business.

How we can help

Workforce management can often be a challenging and overwhelming responsibility. Our specialty lies in establishing preventive measures and providing guidance during difficult situations.

We offer fast and accurate legal advice on all aspects of employee management, including:
  • Formulation of workplace policies and procedures
  • Unfair Dismissal claims
  • General Protections claims
  • Serious misconduct issues
  • Performance management strategies
  • Underpayment of wages claims
  • Parental leave regulations
  • Redundancies and structural reorganisations
  • Modern Award interpretation


Our team of employment law and workplace relations specialists are experienced in handling claims before the Fair Work Commission, as well as the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Defending a claim

Handling an Unfair Dismissal claim can be a challenging and unpleasant experience for employers. Depending on your circumstances, there are some strategies you can implement to manage these situations effectively.

Seek advice before dismissal

Receiving professional advice before dismissing an employee can prevent many claims. This might involve slowing down the process, implementing a show cause procedure, or developing a performance management plan. Case law indicates that many instant dismissals result from hasty reactions or employers’ lack of knowledge about their obligations under the Fair Work Act or equivalent state legislation.

Collect evidence

Upon receiving a claim, analyse its contents and arguments; this will guide you on the evidence you need to gather.

Consider past performance or behaviour, for example:

  • Have there been any fraudulent expense claims against company policies?
  • Does an examination of their emails reveal confidential information disclosed to third parties?
  • Can witnesses attest to counter any argument they make about the unfairness of the dismissal?
Evaluate commercial aspects

Assess whether it’s more practical and economical to settle the claim. What is the employee asking for? Sometimes, a quick settlement might be more cost-effective than proceeding to a hearing.

Aim for resolution in conferences

When attending a conciliation conference, approach it with the intention to resolve the matter, regardless of what the employee’s allegations might be. This approach is usually the most practical and commercially sensible.

Insist on a Deed

If a settlement is reached, always have a Deed in place. This should include strict confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses. Also, consider the tax implications of any settlement and the payment terms.

A bar to future claims is crucial to prevent the employee from making further claims, such as underpayment of wages or discrimination.

At the end of the day, unfair dismissal claims often strike a deeply personal chord, making them particularly challenging to handle. As a business owner, maintaining objectivity can feel like an uphill battle, with feelings of frustration and confusion clouding the practical aspects of the situation.

We not only help you navigate the process of unfair dismissal claims, but also offer a neutral perspective that can help steer the course towards a successful outcome, minimising the financial impact, reducing emotional stress, and ensuring smooth continuity in your business operations.

Risks when terminating an employee

The process of terminating an employee can be fraught with challenges, and handling a General Protections claim is often the most complex and risky. The reality of ending an employment relationship is rarely pleasant – employers often have a sense well in advance that things will not work out.

However, the actual act of dismissal can become messy and complicated. While many employers fear unfair dismissal claims, the General Protection claims pose a notable threat.

General Protections claims encompass a wide range of issues. The most common occurs when an employee alleges that their employer has taken adverse action against them – such as termination or demotion – for exercising a workplace right. This could include complaining about their pay or requesting flexible work hours.

A growing number of General Protections claims

From our experience, we are witnessing a growing number of clients grappling with General Protections claims. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, there’s a reverse onus of proof in such matters. In other words, in a General Protections case, the employer is presumed guilty until they can prove otherwise.

Providing such proof can be difficult and requires clear evidence from the key decision maker explaining that the adverse action, such as firing, was taken for a reason other than a prohibited one. For example, it wasn’t because the employee enquired about their wages, due to their gender, age, or union membership.

Secondly, while compensation may be awarded in these cases, penalties can also be levied, reaching up to $63,000. More significantly, an individual involved in the breach can be liable for up to $12,600. This is a daunting prospect, as directors, managers, HR consultants, advisors, accountants, and CFOs can be held accountable for breaching a General Protections provision.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that employees can lodge a General Protections claim while they are still employed. This fact further underscores the importance of understanding and carefully navigating these claims.

Redundancies and risks

Implementing redundancies is always challenging, but some measures can be taken to lessen your legal liability and mitigate certain risks.

Some common steps to manage your risk include:
  • Review relevant Awards, Enterprise Agreements, employment contracts, and any policies for terms and conditions related to redundancy
  • Determine the amount to be paid and the required actions to be taken
    • Are there specific obligations for consultation?
  • Ensure a comprehensive understanding of your contractual and/or legal obligations
  • Explore all alternatives before resorting to redundancy
    • Have you considered redeployment?
    • Remember, redundancy should be your last option
  • Evaluate the reasons behind the redundancy
    • Is it a genuine redundancy based on the motivating factors?
  • Decide if the job is no longer needed due to changes in operational requirements
  • Choose a selection method that is fair, non-discriminatory, and easily justified to other parties
    • Failing to do so could lead to claims of discrimination, unfair dismissal, or dismissal for a prohibited reason
  • Conduct interviews with all employees being made redundant and provide them with a letter outlining their entitlements and the redundancy date
    • Be ready to answer any questions they may have
  • Ensure all redundancy provisions, including notice period and redundancy pay, have been fulfilled
  • Inform suppliers and key clients of the employee’s departure:
    • The reason for their departure does not need to be disclosed; simply, they are no longer with the company.
    • When deciding what to communicate, consider defamation legislation, public relations, client engagement, and commercial and practical needs.
  • Notify third parties such as industry associations, superannuation funds, WorkCover, and other insurance providers about the employee’s departure
  • Change security codes and passwords to prevent the employee from potentially accessing sensitive information

You should speak to a specialist in this area of employment law for personalised advice. Professional advice can help you greatly reduce the likelihood of claims being made and significantly mitigate the risk of a successful one.

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