On this page:
The law says someone can't take harmful ('adverse') against you for a prohibited reason. The common prohibited reasons are on this page. The Fair Work Act lists all of the prohibited reasons. See sections 340-358 of the Fair Work Act 2009.
You may be able to apply for help if you can show someone took adverse action for 1 of these reasons. We explain this in Understand general protections.
Long periods of sick leave
Employees may be able to apply if they are fired because they are temporarily away from work while sick or injured. You may be eligible to apply for general protections dismissal if this happens to you. Learn more on the long periods of sick leave section of the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
- section 352 of the Fair Work Act 2009
- Regulation 3.01 of the Fair Work Regulations 2009.
The law protects employees and potential employees from discrimination at work. You may be able to apply under the general protections if your employer takes adverse action against you because of your features (attributes). See our Discrimination page for more information and where to go when we cannot help you.
You may be able to apply under the general protections if adverse action has been taken against you:
- because you have a workplace right
- because you used a workplace right
- because you say you will use a workplace right
- to stop you using a workplace right
- because another person says they will use a workplace right for your benefit.
See section 340 of the Fair Work Act 2009.
For example, a workplace right might be the right to ask about your rate of pay or to make a complaint or enquiry about your employment. Go to the Fair Work Ombudsman's workplace rights section to learn more.
The law protects your right to participate (or not participate) in industrial activities. You can choose to be involved (or not involved) in an industrial association. This includes unions and employer associations. You may be able to apply under general protections laws if a person:
- takes adverse action because a person is (or is not) involved in industrial activities (see below)
- coerces another person to be involved in industrial activity
- makes misrepresentations about a persons
- obligation to engage in industrial activity
- obligation to disclose information about membership to an industrial association
- obligation to disclose information about engaging in industrial activities
- induces their employees to become a member of an industrial association
- induces their employees to stop being a member of an industrial association.
Industrial activities include:
- being a member of an industrial association
- becoming involved in establishing a union or employer association
- organising or promoting lawful activities of a union or employer association
- encouraging participation in a lawful activity for a union or employer association
- complying with a legal request made by a union or employer association
- representing the views, claims or interests of a union or employer association
- paying a fee to a union or employer association
- seeking to be represented a union or employer association.
See sections 346-350 of the Fair Work Act 2009.
Most employees are protected from 'sham' arrangements. An employer must not tell an employee that they are being hired as a contractor. An employer must not dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee:
- to hire them as an independent contractor
- who would be doing the same or similar work.
Go to the Fair Work Ombudsman's Sham contracting page for more information.
See sections 357-359 of the Fair Work Act 2009.