unfair dismissal south australia

Unfair Dismissal Laws in South Australia: Your Rights and Remedies.


In South Australia, employees are protected by legislation that prohibits unfair dismissal and provides avenues for seeking redress in case of unjust termination. Unfair dismissal occurs when an employee’s employment is terminated in a manner that is harsh, unjust, or unreasonable. In this blog post, we will delve into the unfair dismissal laws in South Australia, outlining the rights and remedies available to employees who believe they have been unfairly dismissed.

What Constitutes Unfair Dismissal?

Under South Australian law, a dismissal is considered unfair if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • The dismissal was harsh, unjust, or unreasonable.
  • There was no valid reason for the dismissal.
  • The employee was not provided with proper notice or payment in lieu of notice.
  • The dismissal was discriminatory or based on prohibited grounds such as race, gender, age, or disability.
  • The employer failed to follow the correct procedures for termination, including providing an opportunity for the employee to respond to allegations or grievances.

It is important to note that not all employees are eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim. Specific criteria related to employment period, type of employment, and income thresholds must be met.

Lodging an Unfair Dismissal Claim:

In South Australia, if you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, it is essential to take timely action.

The following steps outline the process for lodging an unfair dismissal claim:

Step 1: Seek legal advice: Consult with an employment lawyer who specializes in unfair dismissal cases. They can evaluate the circumstances of your dismissal, determine if it meets the criteria for unfair dismissal, and guide you through the process.

Step 2: Contact the Fair Work Commission: Lodge your unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of the termination taking effect. This involves completing the necessary forms, where you will need to provide specific details including: – Why you have been dismissed, if you know. – The date of your dismissal. – Whether you have received an official letter of dismissal, either in hard copy or digital format. – The name of your employer, the size of the business (e.g., how many employees), and the length of time you worked with your employer. – Whether you have previously contacted the Fair Work Commission regarding your dismissal.

Step 3: Conciliation conference: The Fair Work Commission will schedule a conciliation conference, where you and your employer will have the opportunity to resolve the matter through negotiation and mediation.

Step 4: Formal hearing: If conciliation fails or is not pursued, your claim may proceed to a formal hearing before the Fair Work Commission, where evidence and arguments will be presented.

Step 5: Remedies and outcomes: If your claim is successful, the Fair Work Commission may order remedies such as reinstatement, compensation, or other appropriate actions to remedy the unfair dismissal.”

    Employer Defenses and Valid Reasons for Termination:

    Employers may defend an unfair dismissal claim by providing evidence of a valid reason for the termination. Valid reasons may include poor performance, misconduct, redundancy, or a genuine operational requirement. It is crucial for employers to follow proper procedures, provide clear reasons for termination, and afford employees procedural fairness throughout the process to mitigate the risk of unfair dismissal claims.

    Compensation and Remedies:

    If the Fair Work Commission determines that the dismissal was unfair, they may order various remedies, including:

    • Reinstatement: The employee is reinstated to their previous position or a similar role.
    • Compensation: The employee may be awarded compensation for lost wages, financial losses, and other forms of economic detriment resulting from the unfair dismissal.
    • Other remedies: The Fair Work Commission may also order non-monetary remedies, such as training, policy changes, or issuing an apology.


    Unfair dismissal can have serious consequences for employees, impacting their financial security and overall well-being. Understanding your rights and remedies under South Australian unfair dismissal laws is crucial for seeking redress in case of unjust termination. If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, seeking legal advice from an experienced employment lawyer can provide invaluable guidance throughout the process.


    Useful Links

    Fair Work Australia

    What are the common questions asked?

    If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, you will be asked the following questions during the inquiry process:

    1. Can you explain why you were dismissed, if you are aware?

    2. On what date were you dismissed?

    3. Have you been given a formal termination letter, either in print or electronically?

    4. What is the name of the company that dismissed you, how large is the company (such as the number of employees), and how long were you employed there?

    5. Have you made any contact with the Fair Work Commission regarding your dismissal?