Union membership

A union is a body that represents the interests of workers in a particular industry or occupation.

All employees and independent contractors are free to choose to join or not join a union.

It's illegal for a person to pressure another person about their choice. For example:

  • an employer can't pressure an employee
  • a business can't pressure an independent contractor working with them.

It’s also illegal to take or threaten to take adverse action against a person for:

  • being or not being a union member or
  • taking part or not taking part in industrial activity.

An adverse action against a person includes:

  • dismissing them
  • changing their role to put them in a worse position
  • changing their terms and conditions to put them in a worse position.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) sections 346 (a), 348, 350 and 772 external-icon.png

Need help resolving general protections issues?

For employees:

If you've lost your job, contact the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) first if you think you were sacked because of:

  • discrimination
  • a reason that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable
  • another protected right.

You have 21 days from the day you were sacked to lodge an application with the Commission. Check the information at the Commission website external-icon.png to find out if you can apply for:

  • unfair dismissal external-icon.png (not available if you lost your job because of a genuine Redundancy)
  • a general protections dismissal
  • unlawful termination.

For other general protections issues:

  • consider whether the action taken against you was unlawful after reading the information on this page
  • see our Help resolving workplace issues section for practical advice on:
    • talking to your employer about fixing the problem
    • getting help from us if you still can’t resolve it.

For employers:

Take general protections issues seriously. Speak with your employee to address the problem after reading the information on this page.

We have resources to help you:

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