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Termination of employment

Information to help an employee who believes that their employment was terminated unfairly.

There are several different complaints that may be made if a person believes that their employment contract has ended and that they were treated unfairly by their employer. Depending on the circumstances, an employee may take the following actions:

  • make an unfair dismissal claim
  • make a claim that the dismissal was in breach of general protections under the Act
  • make a complaint about discrimination in the workplace (if this is appropriate)
  • make a claim for wrongful dismissal at common law (usually involves taking action in court).

Sometimes it is hard to know which is best. Get legal advice.

Time limits

Applications for a claim of unfair dismissal or for a dismissal in breach of an employee's general protections have to be made within 21 calendar days of the dismissal taking effect. If an employee misses this deadline they can apply for an extension. The Fair Work Commission will not grant an extension unless satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist.

For details about circumstances that might be considered 'exceptional' see 'Unfair dismissal' (link below)

Note: Alternatively, an employee may be able to make a complaint under discrimination law. The time limit for this is usually 12 months.

More information


Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)

  • Part 3-2—unfair dismissal
  • Part 3-1—general protections

See Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)(opens in a new window)

Fair Work Ombudsman

Ombudsman site has information about the various types of action that a person may be able to take if they have been dismissed by their employer.

See Fair Work Ombudsman—Ending employment(opens in a new window)

Fair Work Commission

The section about dismissals has an explanation about the unfair dismissal process and how to apply.

See Fair Work Commission—Dismissals, termination and redundancy(opens in a new window)


The job watch site has plain language information to assist with various types of dismissals.

See Jobwatch—Termination of employment(opens in a new window)