Have you ever wondered what rights do employees have?
Are you an employee in Queensland? If so, the national and state laws entitle you to rights of work, required at any establishment you find yourself employed at.
The only way to truly avoid your rights being violated by employers or co-workers is to ensure you are aware of them all!
This article will highlight some aspects of work that you are either entitled to or entitled to not experience in the workplace.
What Rights do Employees Have – Discrimination
Discrimination in the workplace occurs when you are treated unfairly because of a physical or mental factor, generally one you cannot control.
Discrimination has occurred if you have been treated poorly due to your:
- Gender identity
- Religious beliefs
- Political views
- Marital status
As an employee, you have the right to be treated equally to all others and to feel safe in the workplace.
Section 15 of the Anti-Discrimination Act establishes the prohibition of discrimination in the workplace and/or work-related areas, stating:
A person must not discriminate—
in any variation of the terms of work; or
in denying or limiting access to opportunities for promotion, transfer, training, or other benefits to a worker; or
in dismissing a worker; or
by denying access to a guidance program, an apprenticeship training program, or other occupational training or retraining programs; or
in developing the scope or range of such a program; or
by treating a worker unfavourably in any way in connection with work.
It further goes on to define the term dismissing as
“Ending the particular work of a person by forced retirement, failure to provide work or otherwise”
It is against the law in Australia for an employer to discriminate against any and all employees including full-time, part-time, and casual employees.
Sick and Carers Leave
Sick and carers leave occurs when an individual suffering from an illness or caring for an immediate family member suffering from an illness takes a period of time off from their employment.
An employee is legally entitled to 10 days per year of paid sick and carers leave and 2 days of unpaid carers leave.
Employees are also entitled to 2 days per year of paid compassionate leave which they can use if an immediate family or household member:
- contracts an illness that may cause a dire threat to their life
- sustains an injury that may be of threat to their life
Every employee, other than a casual worker, is entitled to sick and carers leave as required by the National Employment Standards.
Employers however also have the entitlement to ask for proof or evidence of said injury, illness, or requirement for carer leave.
What Rights do Employees Have – Breaks
Depending on hours worked, employees are entitled to both a rest and lunch break while in the workplace. A rest break otherwise referred to as a “tea break”, is a short period of time during a shift in which an employee can, as the name suggests, rest. A meal break is a longer period of time that allows the employee to consume a meal if wanted.
The requirements surrounding breaks are dependent on the employee’s award, employer requirements, and registered requirements and dictate aspects such as:
- how long the break must be
- when they must be taken
- whether or not they must be paid during break
An employer is also required to give an employee a specific amount of time between shifts, dependent again on the above information regarding the employee, as well as their age.
Parental, commonly maternity, leave is the process of an expecting or a new parent taking a period of time off of their employment to care for themselves or their child.
Parental leave comes in many forms, such as:
- Maternity Leave
- Paternity Leave
- Adoption Leave
Employees are entitled to one year (12 months) of unpaid parental leave, as well as an extra 12 months if requested and approved by their employer.
Employees wishing to adopt are further entitled to two days of unpaid leave pre-adoption.
All Australians are entitled to parental leave. Employees may take parental leave if they have worked for their employee for at least 12 months before the due date of their child’s birth, before their adoption date, and before their leave begins.
Furthermore, they must have or will have responsibility for the child.
What Rights do Employees Have – Trade Union
A trade union is defined as a group of workers in related employment fields that fight for improvements in their work quality, such as a pay raise, benefits, or better working conditions.
Queensland state law prohibits the discrimination of an employee in the workplace due to their participation in trade union activity or support of a trade union.
This unlawfulness applies to all aspects of employment, such as recruitment, training, promotion opportunity, transfer, and others.
What Rights do Employees Have – Unfair Dismissal
Dismissal is the process of terminating the employment of an employee by an employer.
This can occur by either direct communication or, in some cases, the employers’ actions or behaviours forcing the employee to resign.
Someone has experienced unfair dismissal when their position at their employment has been terminated for no apparent or valid reason.
According to the Australia fair work commission, a dismissal is unfair if an employer is:
- Unnecessarily harsh or unjust
- If they are made redundant with no valid reason for redundancy
- If they operate as a small business, must follow the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code 2011
If it is found an employee is dismissed in a way that is stated in the above criteria, the dismissal is considered unfair and, therefore, unlawful.
In order to file an unfair dismissal claim, an employee must have worked at the establishment for a minimum of 6 months before termination.
They are also required to file their claim within 21 days of the day post-termination.
The fairness of a dismissal is decided by the Fair Work Commission.
Workplace Health and Safety
Workplace health and safety is a set of laws that aim to protect the health of all those involved in a workplace, especially employees.
The Act establishes the legal requirements a business must meet to meet health and safety standards and what action you must take to ensure the safety of all individuals present at your establishment at any moment.
The Regulation is used for the educational purpose of showing people what they should be doing in order to obey the act.
Both the Act and Regulation are accompanied by the codes of practice, a document that gives advice on how one can meet the health responsibilities of an employer.
What Rights do Employees Have – Key Takeaways
As an employee, your rights are truly important, and knowledge is a proactive way to ensure your rights are being respected by your employer.
If you feel your rights have been violated, do not hesitate to reach out for assistance and advice from a legal professional!
Remember, no job or opportunity is worth your worker’s rights being damaged!