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Freedom of expression

Last updated March 2022

This chapter explains how and when your employees have a right to freedom of expression.

Do employees have a right to freedom of expression?

No law in Australia gives an employee the right to say what they want. However, there are legal limits on:

  • an employer imposing controls on what an employee can say; and
  • the capacity of an employer to discipline or dismiss an employee because of something they have said.

The laws that impose these limits are found in:

  • common law;
  • unfair dismissal laws;
  • the Constitution;
  • the general protections provisions; and
  • anti-discrimination legislation.

How does common law protect employee freedom of speech?

Definition: Common Law

Common law is law that is derived from precedent (i.e. through past judgments) rather than statute (i.e. laws written in legislation).