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Unfair dismissal 

Unfair dismissal occurs where a worker is sacked by their employer and they believe the action is harsh, unreasonable or unjust.

You must act quickly. An unfair dismissal claim must be filed with the Fair Work Commission, the agency that deals with these matters, within 21 days because the matter needs to be dealt with as soon as is practical so that:

  • witness recollections are fresh and the people involved in the dismissal will usually be available
  • if re-instatement of the employee is ordered, this can occur with limited adverse effect on the employer's business.

Where to go

If you believe you’ve been unfairly dismissed, you can apply to Fair Work Commission for a remedy.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) doesn’t investigate unfair dismissal complaints. It only handles complaints about pay and entitlements. But you can lodge an application for unfair dismissal at a FWO office.

You must apply to Fair Work Commission within 21 days after a dismissal takes effect, although they may accept late applications in limited circumstances. Employees are required to pay an application fee. This fee may be waived on the grounds that its payment would cause serious hardship.

What happens next

When you apply, Fair Work Commission will check the application to see if it’s complete and then they will notify your employer.

Usually, a conciliation is then arranged, to assist both sides to resolve the matter by agreement.

If a resolution can’t be reached, a conference or hearing will be held. If Fair Work Commission finds that the dismissal was unfair, your employer can be ordered to either:

  • reinstate you (give you back your job), or
  • compensate you for up to 26 weeks pay (up to a maximum amount of $54,150).

Need more information?

Call Fair Work Commission on 1300 799 675 or visit the Fair Work Commission website.