I've been fired and I'm not sure what I'm entitled to

For an employee, losing your job or being terminated can be very upsetting. It can happen for various reasons including being dismissed for underperformance or serious misconduct, because the job isn't needed anymore or the business has closed.

Follow our step-by-step guide to see if you’ve been given enough notice and what your entitlements are.

How to check you’ve been given the correct notice and entitlements

Often, the best way to make sure you’re getting all your entitlements when your employment ends is to speak with your employer. It’s worth preparing first.

Before you start – information you need

Steps to take

1. Understand your situation

  • Check why your employment is ending. The business may no longer need your job (redundancy) or your employment may be terminated for another reason (dismissal). This could affect the notice your employer needs to give you and what you are entitled to be paid.
  • Check Who doesn’t get notice. You won’t be entitled to notice if your employer dismissed you for serious misconduct, or if you’re a casual employee.
  • Check Who doesn’t get redundancy pay. Not all employees are entitled to redundancy pay when their job is made redundant.
  • Check if you're covered by an award using Find my award or a registered agreement by checking the Fair Work Commission website.
  • Check your employment contract. You might be entitled to a longer notice period or more redundancy pay than your award or registered agreement says.
  • Check for any workplace policies that might apply to your circumstances.
  • Calculate any final pay, notice to be given and redundancy pay under an award or the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act using our Pay and Conditions Tool.

2. Check if your employer has followed the rules

  • Check whether your employer complied with their redundancy or dismissal obligations specific to your award or registered agreement, your employment contract, or any workplace policy. These often address redundancy and dismissal.
  • If you think you’ve been dismissed unfairly or unlawfully, find out more on our Unfair dismissal page and Protections at work page.

3. Speak with your employer

  • Speak with your employer first if you believe they haven’t followed their obligations or you have questions about the dismissal. Make a time that suits you both.
  • Prepare for the discussion. Write down what you want to get out of the meeting and list out talking points. Our online courses can help you prepare for difficult conversations.
  • Bring a support person along to the meeting if that helps you. Sometimes this can help you remember what was said.
  • Be calm at the meeting. Discuss your situation with your employer and show them the information you’ve found. Follow up in writing after the meeting.

4. Follow up the meeting with your employer

  • Allow time – for example, one week – for your employer to respond to the issues raised at the meeting. If you've been dismissed, remember there are time limits on making applications to the Fair Work Commission for unfair dismissal. See our Unfair dismissal page and Protections at work page.
  • Follow up on your employer’s response.
  • Try to reach agreement with your employer about the end of your employment. Contact us if you can’t resolve the issue and need more support.

Example: Not enough notice

Ahmed is a 35-year-old delivery driver for a large courier company. His employer told him the company was downsizing and they didn’t need as many drivers. His job was being made redundant. Ahmed had been employed for just over 5 years and was given one week’s notice before his last day. He didn’t think that was right.

Ahmed checked his award, the Road Transport Award, and the National Employment Standards. For his 5 years of service, Ahmed worked out that his employer should have given him 4 weeks notice plus 10 weeks redundancy pay.

He spoke to his boss, Bill. Ahmed showed Bill what the Road Transport Award said about his entitlements when being made redundant. This included his correct notice period and redundancy pay for his 5 years of service. Bill said he couldn’t keep Ahmed on for the extra 3 weeks of the notice period. The company was selling the delivery van that week.

Bill paid Ahmed for the remaining 3 weeks of the notice period (4 weeks in total) and the 10 weeks redundancy pay.

If you need more support

Most workplace problems can be solved between an employer and an employee, but this isn’t always possible.

You may need more help if, for example:

  • you believe your dismissal was unfair. The Fair Work Commission (the FWC) hears and decides on cases of unfair dismissal. Find out more on our Unfair dismissal page. Employees need to apply to the FWC within 21 days of the dismissal taking effect. The 21-day period starts the day after the dismissal.
  • your employment contract or a workplace policy has a longer notice period than your award or registered agreement. If it did and it was not followed, you may need legal advice.

You can contact us for our help if:

  • your employer won’t follow the rules for ending employment or you can’t reach an agreement with them.
  • protected actions weren’t respected. Australian workplace laws protect people from being dismissed for discussing a problem at work, joining a union, a discriminatory reason such as race or gender or pregnancy or other Protections at work.
  • your employer dismissed you as an employee and rehired you as a contractor to do the same work. You can check with us if this is a sham contract.
  • Your employer threatens to cancel your visa. Only the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) can cancel visas, not your boss. We have an arrangement with Home Affairs that supports visa holders when they ask for our help with a workplace problem. Visa holders can ask for our help without fear of visa cancellation, even if they’ve breached their work-related visa conditions. This arrangement is called the Assurance Protocol. Read more on our Visa holders and migrants page.

Find out how we can help. Visit Fixing a workplace problem.

Other common workplace problems

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