General protections: best-practice guide — Australia

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) contains a broad set of general protections against discriminatory, unfair or unlawful conduct. The general protections prohibit coercion, misrepresentation, unlawful termination, discrimination and more, creating civil remedy provisions that can be enforced in court.

The general protections protect ‘workplace rights’ as defined broadly in the FW Act. The general protections prohibit ‘adverse action’ being taken against a person when that person decides to, or not to, exercise a ‘workplace right’ or engage, or not engage, in ‘industrial activities’. An employee is also protected from adverse action because of his or her race, colour, sex, age and other grounds.

In essence, the provisions protect employees, employers and independent contractors against unfair, unlawful and discriminatory treatment in the workplace. The FW Act also contains very broad options to remedy conduct that breaches the general protections that provide immediate access to the court system, particularly for some discrimination claims…

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