Dealing with WorkCover issues or facing disciplinary action can be a lonely, stressful and expensive business without the support of your union. A key benefit that the AEU offers its members is legal advice and assistance from our in-house and external legal service providers.
AEU members can receive industrial and, if necessary, legal advice on any work-related matter. We can also provide assistance and represent you at formal hearings for industrial cases, employment law matters and workers’ compensation claims.
Members can obtain advice and representation in all aspects of employment, including:
- disciplinary processes
- unfair dismissal
- breaches of an enterprise agreement
- contract of employment advice
- discrimination law advice.
Often, the AEU can identify a common issue or problem across a whole sector and conduct a case that affects multiple members. Examples of this could include anything from the major laptops litigation case (see box) conducted against the Department of Education and Training to an underpayment claim made against Yooralla in the disability sector.
The AEU works with AdviceLine Injury Lawyers to provide representation to members who have suffered workplace injuries. AdviceLine Injury Lawyers have expert personal injury lawyers located in a number of offices across Victoria who are experienced in all aspects of personal injuries law and have represented AEU members for many decades.
Other legal services
The AEU also supports members with legal services relating to certain criminal law matters; teacher registration advice; and preferential referral arrangements for wills and family law matters.
The union provides these services in accordance with its Legal Assistance Policy, which ensures the member is not one cent out of pocket. Legal assistance is limited for non-members who join after an issue has arisen. Cost-wise, if you’re not a union member and need to arrange your own legal representation, then you might be in for a shock.
Employment law (that is, non-personal injury) advice is expensive and not generally conducted on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis by private law firms. You could expect to pay $300 to $400 per hour for a junior solicitor, and upwards of $600 per hour for a partner in a firm to work on such a case. Depending on the complexity of the work performed, one or more barristers might be needed as well. The fees mount up pretty quickly – and, in many cases, may exceed the value of your claim.
AEU membership means you have the support, advice and representation you need should anything go wrong at work. All in all, a worthwhile investment to protect yourself and your career.