Employees and the Recession: Know your Entitlements.

October 19, 2009

Decrease in sales, pessimistic forecasts and tighter credit from lenders have left some employers with little choice but to dismiss some or all of their workforce. If you have been dismissed or made redundant, it is wise to consider whether you have received your full entitlements before leaving your workplace. National workplace relation laws set out specific rules to protect you.

If you have been dismissed, some questions that you may wish to consider include:

  • Was the dismissal unlawful? It is illegal for an employer to dismiss you for a prohibited reason or without the minimum notice or pay instead of notice. Examples of prohibited reasons include temporary absence from work due to illness or injury, non-membership of a trade union, being absent from work during maternity leave or other parental leave or filing a complaint, or participating in proceedings against an employer.
  • Was the dismissal unfair? Unfair dismissal occurs if Fair Work Australia finds that the person was dismissed, and the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, and the dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy. It is not an unfair dismissal if the employer is a small business owner and they follow the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code when dismissing an employee.
  • Was the Redundancy genuine and did you get all your entitlements? A person’s dismissal is a ‘genuine redundancy’ under Commonwealth workplace laws if the employer no longer needs the person’s job to be done by anyone due to changes in the operational requirements of the business and if the employer followed consultation requirements in the award or agreement that applies. It is not a genuine redundancy if it is reasonable for the employee to be redeployed in the employer’s business, or the business of an entity associated with the employer. If you have been made redundant, you may be entitled to redundancy pay, also called severance pay, but this depends on the terms of your agreement or award.
  • Does your final pay include all that you are entitled to? Employees should receive outstanding wages, including penalty rates and allowances, accrued annual leave entitlements, accrued or pro-rata long service leave (if applicable), and redundancy pay entitlements (if applicable) in their final pay.

Seek legal advice if you are concerned that you have been unfairly or unlawfully dismissed, or that you have not received your rightful entitlements.

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