How to Handle Unfair Dismissal

If you have recently lost your job and don’t know why, or think that you’ve been dismissed unfairly, there are things you can do about it. You may want to consult employment lawyers who will be able to tell you if you have any hope of getting your job back or of being compensated for wrongful dismissal.

What is unfair dismissal

It is important to understand exactly what unfair dismissal is. The definition may be different depending on what Australian state you are in. In Western Australia unfair dismissal is said to occur when an employee’s dismissal is oppressive, harsh or unfair. An example of this would be when there was no cause for the dismissal, or if the reason for the dismissal was not sufficient to have that result.

It could be that the employee was alleged to have performed poorly, accused of some misconduct, or that dismissal was inappropriate to the offence. Or it could be that the employee was given no chance to explain their alleged action or to prove it was false.

Who can make a claim for unfair dismissal?

In Western Australia, you have to make a claim through Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC). The person who can make a claim must:

  • Have been employed under the state system
  • Have earned less than $155,800 per year if not employed under an award
  • Have been dismissed or forced to resign

What happens then?

You should make a claim within 28 days if possible. It costs $50 to lodge a complaint and you will have to provide certain documents. The WAIRC will look into the claim and if they are satisfied you have a case, will set a date for a conciliation conference. This potentially avoids going to court, a lengthy and costly procedure.

The meetings are usually held in Perth or at certain regional centres and each person has to meet their own costs to get there. Notification of dates and times will be given via snail mail, or in the case of urgency, by telephone or email.

Both you and your employer must attend the conference and a neutral party from the WAIRC will also attend. If you cannot speak the language adequately, you may have a translator with you. You can also have a support person to come with you, but not as your agent. You will be required to speak in person.

It is important to prepare your case with a summary of what happened. In fact, you can have a lawyer to represent you, but you must still attend the meeting as well.

If the parties agree to a resolution the WAIRC will make an order outlining the agreement. If they don’t, it will be taken to court where a Commissioner will make the judgement.