The current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is affecting how we deal with unfair dismissal cases.
You can still make an unfair dismissal application during this time.
Australia Post is experiencing delays because of COVID-19. If you can’t lodge electronically and you need to post your application, make sure you allow extra time for postal services.
The 21 day time limit for lodgment still applies.
If you’re having trouble lodging an application, please call us on 1300 799 675.
If you are involved in an unfair dismissal case that's already underway, it will continue to proceed. We are trying as hard as we can to help resolve cases as quickly as possible, but our operations have been affected along with all Australian workplaces.
You may find that your case takes longer than normal to process. It is also likely that, if your case can’t be resolved by phone conciliation, any hearing or conference will happen by phone or videoconference. This means that we can deal with your entire case without you having to come in to the Commission.
For more detail about these changes, please read our general Coronavirus (COVID-19) information.
A person has been dismissed from their employment when:
If you have been dismissed from your employment you may be able to make an application to the Fair Work Commission under either unfair dismissal or general protections dismissal laws. Applications under these laws must be received by the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your dismissal taking effect.
To understand the key differences between these applications, and to decide whether one of these applications may be appropriate for you, see the Termination of employment page.
If eligible, you can make an application to the Fair Work Commission under either unfair dismissal or general protections dismissal laws:
If you want to lodge a case with us, you will need to complete an application. It is not necessary for you to have anyone else act on your behalf when you come to the Commission, and many people choose to represent themselves. However, we understand that seeking help, including legal advice, can reduce complexity and confusion. If you are thinking about asking someone to help you with you case, please read our Do I need to be represented and Complaints about lawyers and paid agents pages first.
The Commission has launched a Workplace Advice Service to provide access to free legal assistance to eligible persons, including small business employers seeking employment law advice.
Find out more by visiting our Where to get legal advice page.
If you have been unfairly dismissed or sacked by your employer, or you were forced to resign because of something your employer did, you may be able to make an application to the Fair Work Commission for reinstatement (getting your job back) or compensation. This is called an unfair dismissal claim.
Your dismissal may be considered unfair if:
It is important to understand that the Commission will not investigate the circumstances of your dismissal. If you make an unfair dismissal claim and a hearing is held you will need to provide evidence to the Commission to show that your dismissal was unfair.
Only a Commission Member can officially decide whether or not your dismissal was unfair.
The Fair Work Commission is limited by law in the unfair dismissal claims that it can deal with – this is called its 'jurisdiction'.
To make an application you must:
An employer can lodge a jurisdictional objection (PDF) if they believe their dismissed employee does not fall within the Commission’s jurisdiction. This means the employer is saying the Commission does not have the power to deal with the claim. If the objection is upheld the unfair dismissal claim will be dismissed. For more details, watch our video What are jurisdiction hearings?.
To find out if you are eligible to apply, take our Unfair dismissal eligibility quiz.
The Fair Work Act 2009 defines a small business as a business with fewer than 15 employees.
This is calculated on a simple headcount of all full-time, part-time and regular casual employees.
Go to the Unfair dismissals benchbook to find out more about the definition of regular and systematic work.
If you've received notice from the Fair Work Commission about an application for unfair dismissal (unfair ending or termination of employment), it means:
If you think your employment ended unfairly (you were dismissed or your employment was terminated unfairly):