As a worker, you have rights regardless of your salary, seniority or job title. The law protects these rights so that if you experience discrimination, mistreatment or unwarranted changes to your employment, help is available.
How do general employee protections work?
General protections exist to legally protect employees from adverse action because they have exercised one of their workplace rights.
What is a workplace right?
‘Workplace rights’ is a broad term. It includes being entitled to the benefit of a workplace law such as the Fair Work Act, or relevant workers compensation legislation, and covers any right you have under these laws.
Examples of common workplace rights include the right to:
- Take sick leave or maternity leave
- Request flexible working arrangements
- Commence legal action, or
- Make a complaint under workplace laws.
What is an adverse action?
In Australia, it’s against the law for an employer to take an adverse action against you for exercising a workplace right. Adverse actions include dismissing, injuring, discriminating against or altering your position to your disadvantage.
Many people don’t realise that the protections against adverse action go beyond just protecting current employees.
The adverse action protections also apply to:
- Prospective employees
- Employers, including prospective employers
- Independent contractors, including prospective independent contractors
- Persons who contract with independent contractors, and
- Industrial associations and their members.
What can I do if my rights have been adversely affected?
If you believe your rights as a worker have been breached, there are a number of avenues for assistance available. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to lodge a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Fair Work Commission.
It's important to remember that strict time limits apply to employment claims and complaints. If you’re not sure what your rights are or what steps you need to take, it’s important to seek expert legal advice as soon as possible.
Shine Lawyers – Employment law practice
Navigating the legal system can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Shine Lawyers’ team of expert employment lawyers can guide you through the process of protecting your workplace rights and settling your employment dispute.
If you’re experiencing difficulties in your place of work, or simply want more information on Shine Lawyers' employment law services, get in touch today.