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Unfair dismissal payout: How much can you receive?

Getting compensation for lost wages and the unfair dismissal claim

Unfair dismissal payout: How much can you receive?

Receiving an unfair dismissal payout is the ideal result when your employer has treated you unfairly. However, you might be unsure if it is even worth your time pursuing a payout. Also a consideration is the motivation to lodge a claim. It could be about money, reputational damage, principal, revenge, unpaid commissions. This article is about the money and where is your unfair dismissal claim fit in the scheme of the Fair work system

This article is a must-read if you are considering making an unfair dismissal claim. We explain how much you can expect to receive with an unfair dismissal payout. We also clearly outline the eligibility criteria for making a claim with the Fair Work Commission (FWC). And we dispel a few myths related to the costs and processes involved.

Check out other cases (immediately line), read below then you will have great understanding what your payout should be.

We have numerous cases listed under What is my unfair dismissal claim worth, click here

When is a dismissal deemed unfair?

Before we discuss how much you could potentially receive with an unfair dismissal payout, it is important to understand the criteria that the FWC uses to determine if your dismissal was unfair.

An unfair dismissal is where an employee’s dismissal was:

  • Harsh, unjust or unreasonable, and
  • Was not a case of genuine redundancy, and
  • If the employee was employed by a small business, was not consistent with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.  

In order to receive an unfair dismissal payout, the above must be true for the employee. To determine if a dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, the FWC considers a number of criteria. This includes whether there was a valid reason for the dismissal related to the employee’s capacity or conduct. Also, if the employee was notified of that reason and given a chance to respond to it. These are just a few of the criteria, which you can view on the FWC website.

Unfair dismissal payouts vary from just wanting the chance to resign to $50,000

Am I eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim?

In order to potentially receive an unfair dismissal payout, you must first be eligible to make a claim. This means satisfying the following criteria:

  • At the time of your dismissal, you had completed at least the minimum employment period with the employer. This is six months or if you worked for a small business (less than 15 employees), 12 months.
  • Earn less than the high-income threshold, which at the time of writing is $162,000. This figure however changes annually. You can see the latest threshold figure on the FWC website.
  • If you are a casual employee, you worked on a regular and systemic basis (i.e. you had a recurring roster) before your dismissal. Also, that you had a good reason to believe that this pattern of work would continue.

If you are unsure if you are eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim, A Whole New Approach can help.

Call us today on 1800 333 666 for a free and confidential conversation to understand if you meet the eligibility criteria.

How much does it cost to make an unfair dismissal claim?

There is a widespread misconception that taking legal action is almost always a very expensive endeavor. This can be true when doing so through the court system. However, taking action through the FWC is far more affordable.

If you engage a lawyer or a paid agent (like us at A Whole New Approach), it is not the same as doing so for a legal matter that will be heard in court. Your representation can offer a no-win, no-fee arrangement, which essentially clears you from incurring any costs if your case is unsuccessful.

There is a fee you must pay the FWC when you apply to make an unfair dismissal claim. For 2022-23, the fee is $77.80, however this changes annually every 1 July. You can view the latest fee amount on the FWC website.

A lot of employees pursue claims for the money. Others pursue them as a matter of principal

It’s important to note that you must also lodge your application within 21 days of your dismissal.

Can I represent myself at the FWC?

You are permitted to represent yourself if your case ends up being heard by the FWC. However, it is strongly advised that you don’t do this. The intricacies of the law mean that most applicants aren’t equipped to successfully argue their case.

It can also be a very intimidating experience to represent yourself. It is especially not advisable if your case brings up certain emotions that may cloud your judgement during a hearing. Representing yourself is the best way to ensure that you won’t receive an unfair dismissal payout.

If you check the Fair work web site most of the successful claims and better payouts are for employees who are represented. Many employees think they have a good understanding of their case and argument. This is until the employer turns up with numerous witnesses, telling a whole host of lies and made up stories. Then what do you do?. The Fair work Commission must rule on the evidence before it, not take a stab at the truth or feel sorry for you.

What happens in an unfair dismissal conciliation?

Mediating a conciliation between you and your employer is the first step the Fair work will take to help resolve your unfair dismissal case. It is organized as soon as your unfair dismissal application is received and generally takes place between two to five weeks later.

According to the FWC, 75 percent of unfair dismissal cases are resolved with conciliation. Conciliation is voluntary and if you choose not to participate in it, your application will proceed as normal. It is conducted by an independent conciliator who leads the discussion to determine the facts of your case and who may be right or wrong.

The aim of a conciliation conference is for the employee and employer to reach a settlement. This is a written legal contract (referred to as a Deed of Release) that the two parties must sign. The settlement could be whatever the parties agree to. This could range from an apology, reinstatement of the employee’s job or an unfair dismissal payout.

A conciliation conference generally lasts for 90 minutes, however in some cases can last for a day or longer. The conference and the outcomes of it are completely private. If you choose not to participate in conciliation, or a settlement isn’t reached during conciliation, your case will proceed to a formal hearing with the FWC.

FWC hearings: What happens when you win your unfair dismissal case?

If the Fair work finds that you were subject to an unfair dismissal, there are generally two outcomes. The Fair work Commission may order your employer to reinstate your employment. This means you will either get your old job back or be appointed to a new job that is similar in terms and conditions. This outcome may also include continuity of service as well as pay or benefits that you lost while you had been dismissed.

The second outcome is for the FWC to order your employer to issue you an unfair dismissal payout.  This payout is compensation for any financial loss you suffered as a result of being dismissed. For instance, the wages you lost during your period of not being at work. An unfair dismissal payout does not include any compensation for shock, distress, hurt or humiliation you suffered due to your dismissal.

It must be noted that an employer is only ordered to provide a payout if reinstatement is not possible. For instance, if the business is no longer operating or the employee can’t work because of illness or injury. Also, if the employer-employee relationship has broken down and therefore they can not work together. Or if it is likely that the employer will dismiss the employee again.

Unfair-dismissals-on-average-is-not-big -money-jurisdiction
Unfair dismissals on average is not big money jurisdiction. Careful what your legal or presentation fees are. You might be tipping money down the drain.

How much is an unfair dismissal payout?

According to the latest figures from the FWC, the median unfair dismissal payout is $8,704. The maximum amount of compensation that you can receive is the lower of the two following amounts:

There are however two scenarios in which an employee may have their unfair dismissal payout reduced. This includes if they did not experience any financial loss due to the dismissal. Or if the FWC deems that they deserve a lower payout due to bad behaviour. In other words what did you do to contribute to your dismissal. also the employees length of service plays a role in the Fair work thinking as to award of compensation. Generally the better payouts are to employees with 5 years or more service.

How is the payout calculated?

The Fair work uses what it calls the Sprigg formula to calculate the amount of an unfair dismissal payout. This formula was established during the 1998 unfair dismissal case Sprigg v Paul’s Licensed Festival Supermarket.

The Sprigg formula was part of the legislation that preceded the introduction of the Fair Work Act in 2009. The approach that must be taken when using the Sprigg formula was outlined during the 2013 case Bowden v Ottrey Homes Cobram and District Retirement Villages. Since that case, this approach has been part of the Fair Work Act.

The Sprigg formula requires the Fair work to take several steps in order to calculate an unfair dismissal payout. This includes estimating the amount of pay the employee would have received if they had not been dismissed. It also involves deducting any pay the employee has earned since their dismissal. You can view the full list of steps outlined by the Sprigg formula on the FWC website.

A lot of employees see their relationship with the employer as a close relationship. So when they are terminated they are devastated. They want revenge, want to make a point. Its not about the money, principle and justice matters.


We at A Whole New Approach are experts in handling unfair dismissal claims. In the last two decades, we have handled over 16,000 claims in every Australian state. We have a deep understanding of the processes involved and how to make your claim a success.

It is important to understand that you must file your claim within 21 days of being dismissed. So if you feel you were mistreated by your employer, call us today on 1800 333 666 for a free and confidential conversation. We can help you understand if you are eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim and streamline the process for you. All Fair work matters including, redundancy, sick leave, questions and answers, adverse action claims, call us

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