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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself - LawAssist

Union activities​

    Can your employer dismiss you for union activity?

    Your employer must not dismiss you because you:

    • are a member or officer of a union
    • want to be represented by a union
    • are not a member or officer of a union
    • take part in union activities that are lawful (like organising or promoting a union or going to union events)
    • refuse to take part in union activities.

    In the Fair Work Act, these are called 'industrial activities'.

    Alert Icon  Your employer may be able to dismiss you if you take part in union activities that are not lawful. If you are not sure about this, get legal advice.

    What you can do?

    If you were dismissed from your job, you may be able to make a number of different claims against your employer. Before you make any claims or applications, you should get legal advice to help you work out what is the right option for you.

    If you were dismissed because you took part in union activities (or refused to take part in union activities), it is possible to make a general protections application to the Fair Work Commission (the Commission).

    Alert icon   If you want to make a general protections dismissal application to the Commission, you must do so within 21 days of the date you were dismissed.

    The Commission may accept late applications, but usually only in exceptional cases.

    The Commission will hold a conference to try and settle the dispute. If this does not solve the problem, it is possible to apply to the Federal Circuit Court  to ask for an order.

    The Federal Circuit Court can order that:

    • you be reinstated (get your job back)
    • your employer pay a fine (penalty)
    • compensation be paid to you.

    Which section of the Fair Work Act applies?

    Section 346 of the Fair Work Act is the section that protects you from being dismissed because of industrial activity. When filling out your general protections application form for the Commission, you will need to refer to this section of the Act.

    Case study

    ​​​GeorgeCase study icon

    George worked for a large printing company on the outskirts of Sydney. George often finds it hard to be on time to work as he catches public transport and needs to change trains several times. His manager often cautions him about this.

    George attended a rally about workplace rights one morning and arrived several minutes late for his afternoon shift. He was invited to a meeting to discuss the issue with his manager. George told his manager he would not come to the meeting unless he could have a union representative attend with him. One week later, when George had a meeting with his manager and a union representative, his manager told them that George was dismissed.

    George may be able to make a general protections dismissal application if one of the reasons his manager dismissed him was because he attended a union rally.

    Alert Icon  This topic only deals with dismissals. However, it is possible to make a general protections application even if you have not been dismissed. You should get legal advice if you have been dismissed or are having problems at work. You may have other options, such as:

    • unfair dismissal claim if you were dismissed (for more information, see Unfair dismissal)
    • discrimination claim (if you have been discriminated against at work)
    • bullying claim (if you have not been dismissed but are experiencing workplace bullying). 

    For answers to commonly asked questions, see What are general protections? - Frequently Asked Questions.



     

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