The Industrial Relations Act 2016 (Qld) (the Act) provides for a number of general protections at work.
There are three broad categories of protections: workplace rights, freedom of association and protection from workplace discrimination.
Adverse action is an action taken against a person that violates their protections.
An adverse action could include:
If an employee’s (or prospective employee’s) general protections are impacted by adverse action (as specified under the Act) the employee may have a claim before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC).
A workplace right is:
Freedom of association is the ability or choice to take part in (or not take part in) industrial activities. For example, becoming a member of a union or organising an activity for a union or its members.
Protection from discrimination is the protection from adverse action being taken against an employee because of a discriminatory reason. For example; sex, relationship status, pregnancy, parental status, religious belief etc.
Employees are protected from actual action taken or not taken as well as action threatened.
If an employee has experienced adverse action, the employee or the employee’s union can apply to the QIRC to have the dispute heard.
If the adverse action is that the employee has been dismissed, the application must be made within 21 days after the dismissal took effect. Further periods may apply in exceptional circumstances.
For adverse action other than dismissal, an application must be made to the QIRC within 6 years of the action occurring.
The Act maintains the QIRC as a lay jurisdiction, however for general protections matters parties may be legally represented if all parties consent or if the QIRC grants leave to be represented.
Further information about legal representation can be found on the QIRC website.
The Act provides for a broad range of remedies depending on the adverse action taken and the circumstances of the action. Remedies may include reinstatement (in the case of dismissal) and compensation.
For specific information, contact your employer’s Human Resources or Industrial Relations area or your union.
Note: Claims cannot be made for an action which occurred prior to the commencement of the general protections provisions on 1 March 2017.