Getting sacked is never a great experience. There are heaps of reasons that you might end up out of a job, but whatever your circumstances, there's a few things you should know and do.
Know your rights
If you're a member of a union, get in touch with them as soon as possible. They can help you work out if you were given the right amount of notice or if you were dismissed unfairly or unlawfully.
You can also contact the following organisations for general advice and information about your rights over the phone:
- The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) helpline - 1300 486 466 (even if you're not a union member)
- Fair Work Ombudsman - 13 13 94
- JobWatch - (03) 9662 1933 or for Regional Victoria - 1800 331 617
Did you get the right amount of notice?
There are minimum notice periods your employer must give you when sacking you, depending on how long you've continuously worked there.
When you get sacked, your employer is legally obliged to pay you as though you had worked the full term of your notice period. They have to pay this amount even if you don't work that full period. So if you're given two weeks notice, but you're asked to leave immediately, your employer has to give you two weeks' pay.
To find out how much notice you should be given, check out the Fair Work Ombudsman's Notice Periods page.
Find out if you're eligible to lodge a claim or complaint
If you think you were sacked in an unfair or unlawful way, you can lodge a complaint under unfair dismissal or unlawful termination laws. However, you only have a short about of time to lodge either an unfair dismissal or unlawful termination complaint, so get onto it straight away.
Check out our page on Unfair dismissal for more information.
Find out why you got sacked
You might have been fired for any number of reasons. It could have been something you did. It might be something the company did. Whatever it was, you need to know why it happened so that you can explain it to your potential future employers.
It's time to ask yourself some hard questions. Were you fired:
- Because of something you did?
- Because of something you didn't do?
- Because you didn’t have the right skills or experience for the job?
- Because you didn’t get along with a person or the people you worked with?
- Because your position was no longer required?
If there are things you could have done differently - like bad habits you could improve - take note of them and make a commitment to changing them. For example, if you were always late to work in the mornings maybe you need to leave the house earlier!
If there was something happening in your personal life that led to you getting sacked (like you have to help your brothers get to school every morning) you need to find a way to feel comfortable explaining this to future employers so that they understand your circumstances and can help you out where possible.
Signing up with Centrelink will get you access to their job search assistance services. You might also be eligible to receive financial assistance, like Youth Allowance or Newstart, immediately. This can help to take the financial pressure off. You can also discuss your circumstances confidentially and get advice on what to do next.
- If you're 22 or older, you're eligible for Newstart Allowance and should call 132 850
- If you're 21 or younger, you're eligible for Youth Allowance and should call 132 490
To find out more about what kind of payments you might be eligible for, check out the Centrelink Payment Finder.
If you can get an Employer Separation Certificate from your old employer, that will help. An Employer Separation Certificate lets Centrelink know that you didn't quit your job - that you really were sacked. Without the certificate, you may have to wait a while before you're eligible to receive benefits.
If your employer doesn't have access to an Employer Separation Certificate, you can download one for them to fill out.
Start looking for a new job
The longer you're out of work, the more difficult it is to find a job. So start looking for a new job straight away. Check out our How to find a job pages for help.
You'll probably have to dust off and update your resume, too. Check out our Applying for a job section for great tips and advice for creating killer resumes and cover letters.
How to explain it to your family and friends
Your family and friends are likely to ask lots of questions about why you were fired.
Be honest with them, but don’t feel obligated to tell them all the details. You don’t want one of them to get the wrong idea about what happened and then start telling other people about it.
Remember - both you and the company you worked for have a right to confidentiality. You need to protect your reputation because it will affect your future job opportunities.
Statewide community legal centre specialising in issues for workers in Victoria, and offering free and confidential advice.
Fair Work Ombudsman
Gives advice about Australia’s national workplace relations system, and helps people understand their workplace rights and responsibilities.
Fair Work Commission
Independent body that carries out a range of functions relating to minimum wages, employment conditions, dispute resolution, termination of employment and other workplace matters.
Australian Council of Trade Unions
The ACTU can help you find out which union you are eligible to join. They can also offer free general employment advice.