Workplace dismissal rights for employees

It is against the law for an employer to dismiss you or select you for redundancy because of a personal characteristic covered by the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and federal anti-discrimination laws.

However you can be dismissed at work if your:

  • work performance is unsatisfactory 
  • employer has genuine financial and operational reasons. 

Age

You cannot be cannot be retired because you have reached a certain age. Your employer also cannot threaten to retire you or do anything to make you retire because you have reached a certain age. This includes making your working environment so unpleasant that you are forced to retire. This is against the law.

The Commission has more information for mature age workers in our Resources and Publications section, including:

Injury

You cannot be dismissed simply because you have an injury. This is against the law. If you are given a medical retirement or dismissals, it must comply with:

  • anti-discrimination laws
  • workers' compensation legislation 
  • the relevant award or enterprise agreement. 

Your employer must have independent medical advice that confirms that you are no longer able to meet the requirements of the job and:

  • no adjustments can reasonably be made so you can continue working, or 
  • you pose an unacceptable risk to safety in the workplace.

Employer responsibilities

Employers have responsibilities to follow before they dismiss someone because of poor performance of financial circumstances. 

The Small Business Fair Dismissal Code at the Fair Work Australia website also has information that could be useful. 

Complaints to the Commission

An employee can lodge a complaint of discrimination with the Commission if they believe their workplace terms and conditions discriminate against them because of a personal characteristic that is protected under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. <link to 8.0 Make a complaint>

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