General Protections - What are they
The concept of "General Protections" has created significant confusion amongst employers. Some are not even aware that they exist. So what are they and what affect do they have?
Simply put, general protections are specified in the fair work act to protect the workplace rights of everybody who participates in the workforce. This includes employees, employers, independent contractors, unions and employer associations.
The legislation protects against all employees, employers and other members of the workforce from taking 'adverse action' against one and other. The notion of 'adverse action' is very important and needs to be understood to ensure parties don't inadvertently breach another's workplace rights. Adverse action is any conduct that disadvantages another person.
An example of an adverse action taken by an employer includes:
- Threatening to terminate employment/contract without due cause.
- Not acting on bullying or discrimination
- Injury at work
- Unreasonably refusing to allow employees to take holidays
- Discriminating against someone due to ill health.
An example of an adverse action taken by an employee includes:
- Ceasing to work for their employer without due notice
- ot working to specified requirement and standard
- ndustrial Actions
- iscriminating against other employees.
As an independent contractor; being threatened with the premature termination of your contract, or being discriminated against because of you sexual orientation, race or religion are all deemed to be "adverse actions". Conversely, if an independent contractor withholds services for which they are contracted, then this action can also be seen as an "adverse action" that is in breach of the company's general protections. To see what Fair Work has to say on the subject; click here.
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This article was published in the Australia Freelance Market News 66.