Australia has some of the most comprehensive industrial, employment and workplace laws in the world. Things like the 38 hour week, sick leave, 17.5% recreation leave loading, carer’s leave, superannuation and a range of other benefits were all hard fought entitlements won by the Union movement for Australian workers.
Today comprehensive laws contained in the Commonwealth Fair Work Act and the Industrial Relations Acts of most states provide protection for workers against the erosion, detriment, or harm of workers’ rights and/or unfair treatment of an employee by their employer. These laws are known as “General Protections”.
Employees are protected under these provisions from what is called “Adverse Action”. Put simply, an employer cannot take adverse action against an employee. Adverse action may include dismissal, acting to an employee’s detriment or prejudice, removing entitlements, benefits or rights, demotion, treating an employee differently to others in the same role in the workplace, and so on.
General protections cases can be complex and difficult to prove, but they provide for compensation for the employee and in some cases civil penalties against the employer.