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Employment Law (Tas)

In Tasmania, employment is regulated by both state and federal laws. At the federal level, the Fair Work Act 2009 regulates the operation of awards, enterprise agreements and sets out the national employments standards. At the state level, the Industrial Relations Act 1984 governs the making of award and enterprise agreements and sets out minimum standards of employment. It also sets up the Tasmanian Industrial Commission, which seeks to resolve industrial disputes, fix rates of pay and set terms of conditions of employment. This article deals with employment law in Tasmania.

State or federal law?

In Tasmania, employees who work in the state public sector are covered by the Industrial Relations Act. Those who are employed in local government and in federal government departments and agencies are covered by the national system. Some workers in the state public sector may have registered agreements in the national system. Those employees are covered by the national system.  

All private sector employees in Tasmania are covered by the national system.

National employment standards

The National Employment Standards are set out in Part 2.2 of the Fair Work Act. They set out the obligations of employers in respect of setting and altering the terms of employment, including the maximum number of hours an employee can be expected to work, how requests for flexible work arrangements are to be dealt with, and the circumstances under which employers must offer casual workers the opportunities to convert to full time or part time employment.

WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Tasmania deals with workplace health and safety matters, decides applications for workers compensation and issues licensing permits for high-risk occupations such as asbestos licensing.

If a worker suffers illness or injury in Tasmania as a result of their employment, they can make a workers compensation claim to WorkSafe Tasmania. Claims can also be made for asbestos compensation by workers who have developed an asbestos-related disease as a result of exposure to asbestos at work.

Unfair dismissal in Tasmania

Unfair dismissal occurs when a worker is terminated in a harsh, unjust or unreasonable manner. An employee who is covered by the national system and is unfairly dismissed can make a complaint to the Fair Work Commission. This must be done within 21 days of the date of dismissal. A successful unfair dismissal complaint can result in reinstatement, compensation or other remedies.

A person is eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim if they have worked for their employer for at lease six months and earn less than the high-income threshold (currently $158,500 per annum).

Unlawful dismissal in Tasmania

Unlawful dismissal occurs when a person has their employment terminated for a reason that is prohibited under the Fair Work Act. An unlawful dismissal claim can be made by a person who is covered by the national scheme and in some circumstances, by a person who is not.

Circumstances where a person’s dismissal may amount to unlawful dismissal include where a person is dismissed because of temporary absence because of illness, because of their membership of a trade union, because they have made a complaint against their employer or because of their sex, race, age, disability or another attribute that is protected under anti-discrimination legislation.

Anti-discrimination laws in Tasmania

In Tasmania, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 protects workers from discrimination on prescribed grounds including sex, race, disability and age. Discrimination in the workplace can be direct or indirect. Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably that someone else because of an attribute – for example being refused a job because of your race. Indirect discrimination occurs when a person is subjected to a condition, requirement or practice that is unreasonable and that is harder for them to comply with because of their attribute – for example, failing to provide female toilets for employees.

A person who believes they have been unlawfully discriminated against in Tasmania can make a complaint to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. The complaint may be dealt with by conciliation or referred to the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT) for determination after a hearing.

Discrimination in the workplace is also unlawful under federal laws including the Sex Discrimination Act, the Age Discrimination Act, the Race Discrimination Act and the Disability Discrimination Act. Complaints about discrimination under these laws can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission.  

If you are unsure whether your discrimination complaint should be made under the state or federal scheme, seek specialist legal advice.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.

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Author

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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