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Disputes with your Employer

If you have a dispute with your employer, or you believe that your employment has been unfairly or unlawfully terminated, there are several options for resolving it. This guide is intended to help you answer the most common questions on employer disputes.

Frequently Asked Questions

If an employee is entitled to benefits (for example wages) under their employment contract (not an award or industrial agreement), and they are not paid those benefits, they have been denied their contractual benefits.

You should first try talking to your employer about the issue or write them a letter setting out the details of your claim. If this doesn’t work, and you can’t come to an agreement, you can make a claim in the Industrial Relations Commission.

To make a claim you must:

  • Be an employee;
  • Earn below a set ceiling – note that this amount can vary from time to time. It is advisable to check the current set ceiling on the WA Industrial Relations Commission website if you are a state system employee, or the Fair Work Commission website if you are a federal system employee; and
  • Be able to specify what benefit you were entitled to and what it is you are claiming.

You can make a claim in either the WA Industrial Relations Commission or the Fair Work Commission depending on whether you’re an employee with the state or federal systems of employment in Australia.

It can be difficult to know what law applies and what your rights are because there are two different systems of employment law – state and federal. If you are a sole trader or in a business partnership, you fall under the state system. This means your employment is governed by the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA), and any disputes you have are heard in the WA Industrial Relations Commission.

If you work for a Proprietary Limited (Pty Ltd) company, you’re part of the federal system, where the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) applies and disputes go to the Fair Work Commission. We highly recommend you get legal advice before making a claim in any tribunal.

If you’re unsure which system applies to your employment, you can contact the Fair Work Commission Help Line, Wageline or the Employment Law Centre of WA (now part of Circle Green Community Legal) for more information.

Yes, there is. Claims for unpaid employee benefits need to be started within six years of the benefits becoming payable. It’s advisable to start your application as soon as possible.

Yes, making a claim involves a lodgement fee. Check with the WA Industrial Relations Commission or the Fair Work Commission to find out what the relevant fee is.

Unfair dismissal is when an employee’s dismissal from employment is harsh, unjust, or unreasonable.

Yes, there is a time limit. If you are claiming in the Fair Work Commission, you have 21 days from the date of dismissal to make the application. If claiming in the WA Industrial Relations Commission, you have 28 days after the day of dismissal. These times may be able to be extended in some circumstances.

Next Steps

The Department of Mines, WA Industrial Relations Commission has a series of useful guides that may help you to resolve your dispute.

The Employment Law Centre of WA (Now part of Circle Green Community Legal) provides free information videos and fact sheets on employment issues. You can also contact their helpline for further information and advice.

You can also contact Wageline on 1300 655 266.

Informing Western Australia since 1963

Mission: To connect people with information and services so they can make independent and informed decisions.

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