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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself

What are general protections?

You have rights at work that are protected. If your employer dismisses you because you use (or try to use) these rights, you may be able to make a general protections dismissal application to the Fair Work Commission (the Commission).

The Fair Work Act sets out the rights that are protected and how you can make an application.

You can find more information about the rights that are protected under these headings (called 'general protections'):

    Alert IconThis list only covers some of the more common rights that are protected. You should get legal advice on your particular case to find out if you can use laws about general protections.

    Handy hint iconSometimes there can be more than one reason why your employer dismissed you. As long as one of these reasons is a breach of a general protection, it is possible to make a general protections application. Before you make an application, you should get legal advice.

    Wages, leave and other workplace rights

    You have the right to get paid your wages, take leave and get other entitlements at work (for example, meal breaks).

    Your employer must not dismiss you for using or trying to use these rights. Also, your employer must not dismiss you for making a complaint or an enquiry about these rights. If they do dismiss you for any of those reasons, it is possible to make a general protections application.

    For more information, see Wages, leave and other workplace rights.

    Union activities

    You have the right to be a member of a union or refuse to join a union. You also have the right to take part in certain types of industrial action. If your employer dismisses you because you joined a union or participated in union activity, it is possible to make a general protections application.

    For more information, see Union activities.

    Discrimination

    Your employer must not dismiss you for discriminatory reasons (for example, race, sex, sexual preference, age or disability). If your employer does this, it is possible to make a general protections application.

    For more information, see Discrimination.

    Absence because of illness or injury

    You have the right to take time off work when you are unwell.

    If your employer dismisses you because you have been absent temporarily because of illness or injury, it may be possible to make a general protections application.

    For more information, see Absence because of illness or injury.

    Sham contracting arrangements

    Your employer must not tell you that you are being hired as a contractor when you are really an employee. Also, they must not dismiss you so they can hire you as a contractor doing the same work. Either of these situations are called "sham arrangements" and you may be able to make a general protections application.

    For more information, see Sham contracting arrangements. 

    Alert IconThis 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 also 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​).

    Handy hint iconSometimes general protections cases are called "adverse action claims." Dismissal is one type of "adverse action." If your employer dismisses you for using or trying to use your rights, they have taken adverse action against you.

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

    To check whether you are covered by laws about general protections in the workplace, see Can you apply?

    Picture of a conciliation of a general protections dismissal at Fair Work Australia