Getting sacked is when you get fired from your job. Your boss will tell you that you can no longer work there.
This can be a tough experience to go through. You might feel angry and upset. You might also feel sad, ashamed or even relieved.
If you think you’ve been treated unfairly, or you’ve been discriminated against, there are some things you can do.
Know your work rights
The Fair Work Ombudsman can tell you about your rights when you get sacked. The main things to find out are if you’ve been given the right amount of notice, and whether you were dismissed unfairly or unlawfully.
Notice is the minimum period between when you find out you’ve been sacked, and when your employment officially ends. There are different notice periods depending on your situation.
If you think you’ve been dismissed unfairly or unlawfully, you may be able to lodge a complaint against your employer.
For help and advice, you can contact:
- the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or via their online enquiry form
- JobWatch on (03) 9662 1933 in Melbourne, 1800 331 617 in regional Victoria, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re a union member, you should also contact your union for support. Being able to get help during stressful times like this is one of the benefits of belonging to a union. It’s too late to join a union if you’ve already been sacked.
Did you get the right amount of notice?
Full-time or part-time workers
If you’re a full-time or part-time worker, your employer needs to give you notice before they sack you. The minimum notice period is determined by the length of time you’ve continuously worked there.
Your employer must keep paying you during the notice period. They must do this even if they’ve told you to stop coming to work. 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’re entitled to, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's page about notice periods.
Find out why you got sacked
Finding out why you got sacked is important. Ask your employer if it was because of:
- something you did
- something you didn't do
- not having the right skills or experience for the job
- not getting along with a person or the people you worked with
- your position no longer being required
- something unrelated to you, like falling business sales.
You might have been sacked because of something outside your control. This might be because the business was closing down, or because your employer changed the way they worked and didn’t need you anymore. If this is the case, you need to be able to explain to future employers why you were sacked.
You might have been sacked for something you did or didn’t do. If so, you need to know what went wrong so you can make changes. For example, if you were always late to work in the mornings, make a commitment to leaving the house earlier.
One way of turning the experience into a positive is to look for ways to demonstrate to a future employer how you’ve changed as a result.
Find out if you're eligible to lodge an unfair or unlawful dismissal complaint
If you think you were sacked unfairly or unlawfully, you can lodge a complaint under unfair dismissal or unlawful termination laws.
Unfair dismissal is when you’re sacked harshly or unreasonably. For example, it’s unfair if you’re sacked because you made a mistake when you hadn’t been properly trained on what to do.
Unlawful dismissal is when you’re sacked due to discrimination, or for example because you made a claim for unpaid wages or a sexual harassment complaint.
Visit our page on unfair dismissal and unlawful termination for more information on what to do in this situation. You must lodge a complaint within 21 days.
If you’re older than 16 and you need financial assistance, you should sign up with Centrelink. You might be able to access Youth Allowance or Newstart immediately, depending on your situation. Getting financial assistance from Centrelink is generally known as unemployment benefits.
You’ll also be able to use Centrelink’s job search assistance services.
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 13 28 50 or use the online application process.
- If you're 16–21, you're eligible for Youth Allowance and should call 13 24 90, or use the online application process.
To find out more about what kind of payments you might be eligible for, you can go through a series of questions on the Centrelink Payment and Service Finder.
If you can get an Employer Separation Certificate from your old employer, that will help. An Employer Separation Certificate proves to Centrelink that you really were sacked. It shows that you didn't just quit your job.
Without the certificate, you may have to wait before you can receive unemployment 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. Start looking for a new job straight away. Visit our How to find a job pages for help.
You'll probably have to update your resume. Visit our How to apply for a job section for advice on what makes a good resume and cover letter.
How to explain it to your family and friends
Your family and friends will probably have lots of questions about why you were sacked.
Be honest with them, but don’t feel you need to tell them all the details.
Both you and the company you worked for have a right to confidentiality. You need to protect your reputation. It could affect your future job opportunities.
Statewide community legal centre specialising in issues for workers in Victoria, and offering free and confidential advice.
Gives advice about Australia’s national workplace relations system, and helps people understand their workplace rights and responsibilities.